Background: It is unknown whether an incident cancer diagnosis differentially impacts acute and long-term memory aging between older White and Black Americans.
Methods: Incident cancer diagnoses and memory (immediate and delayed recall, combined with proxy-reported memory) were assessed at biennial study interviews in the US Health and Retirement Study (N=14,235, 1998-2016). We used multivariable segmented linear mixed-effects models to evaluate the rate of change in standardized memory score (SD/decade) in the years before, acutely at the time of, and in the years following an incident cancer diagnosis, compared to cancer-free adults, by race.
Results: Black participants experienced faster memory decline than White participants (cancer-free group: -1.211 vs. -1.077; P<0.0001). An incident cancer diagnosis was associated with an acute memory drop in White, but not Black participants (-0.065 vs. 0.024; P<0.0001). However, White cancer survivors experienced slower memory decline than cancer-free White adults before and after diagnosis, but this memory advantage was not observed among Black cancer survivors.
Conclusions: Racial disparities in memory aging are not modified by an incident cancer diagnosis. The acute cancer-related memory decline and long-term memory advantage experienced by White, but not Black, cancer survivors relative to cancer-free older adults, requires further investigation.
Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.