Self-perceived cognitive functioning and quality of life among cancer survivors: results from the PROFILES registry

J Cancer Surviv. 2022 Apr;16(2):303-313. doi: 10.1007/s11764-021-01023-9. Epub 2021 Mar 17.


Purpose: The aim was to investigate the level of self-perceived cognitive functioning and its associated factors among a large population-based cohort of cancer survivors and their matched controls.

Methods: Data were obtained from population-based PROFILES registry cohorts, including colon, rectum, prostate or thyroid cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma (MM), melanoma, or basal cell carcinoma (BCC)/squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). All patients completed the EORTC QLQ-C30 from which self-perceived cognitive functioning, fatigue, functioning, and global health status/quality of life (GHS/QoL) were used. The PROFILES registry data were linked with the Netherlands Cancer Registry to obtain sociodemographic and clinical data.

Results: Six thousand seven hundred eighty-six survivors were included (response rate=76%). Survivors, except for melanoma and BCC/SCC, reported on average lower self-perceived cognitive functioning scores compared to their matched controls (all p's<0.01). Largest differences with the norm were observed in thyroid cancer, HL, NHL and MM, and younger survivors (<50 years). Survivors with lower emotional functioning and more fatigue were more likely to report impaired self-perceived cognitive functioning.

Conclusion: Self-perceived impaired cognitive functioning is prevalent among a wide range of cancer survivors, especially among survivors <50 years. Approaches targeting cognitive problems including attention for co-occurring symptoms such as fatigue and emotional impairments are needed to improve care for these patients.

Implications for cancer survivors: Cancer survivors and clinicians should be aware that impaired self-perceived cognitive functioning is a frequently reported consequence of cancer and its treatment among survivors of various cancer types. Clinicians can redirect survivors to a relevant healthcare provider or program to target cognitive problems.

Keywords: Anxiety; Cancer survivors; Cognitive functioning; Fatigue; Normative population; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Cognition
  • Fatigue
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin*
  • Male
  • Melanoma*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Registries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / psychology