Longitudinal changes in patient-reported cognitive complaints among older adults with gastrointestinal malignancies - results from the Cancer and Aging Resilience Evaluation (CARE) Registry

J Cancer Surviv. 2024 Apr;18(2):521-530. doi: 10.1007/s11764-022-01254-4. Epub 2022 Sep 17.


Purpose: Longitudinal change in patient-reported cognitive complaints (CC) in older adults with cancer is poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to evaluate early longitudinal CC and predictors among older adults with cancer.

Methods: We examined early CC change on the PROMIS® Short Form4a Cognitive Function among adults ≥ 60 years with GI cancer enrolled in the Cancer and Aging Resilience Evaluation (CARE) undergoing geriatric assessment (GA) at baseline and one 3-6-month follow-up. Multivariable linear regression examined associations of demographics, socioeconomics, GA domains, baseline cognitive score, and treatment toxicities on follow-up cognitive score. Bayesian analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) determined best fitting model.

Results: A total of 218 participants were included. The median follow-up was 3.7 months, the mean age was 69.2 ± 7.1, and 57.3% were male. The most common cancer was colorectal (30.7%) with most stage III/IV (73.7%). About half (51.8%) had stable cognition baseline to follow-up (follow-up t-score ± 5 points of baseline), 20.6% improved (≥ 5 increase), and 27.5% declined (≥ 5 decrease). After adjustment, there were no significant baseline predictors of follow-up cognitive t-score. Baseline t-score was the best-fitting predictor of follow-up t-score.

Conclusions: In this first study, examining early change in CC among older adults with cancer, ~ 28% exhibited cognitive decline. Baseline cognition is the most important early predictor of follow-up cognition. Longer follow-up is needed to identify long-term predictors of CC change in cancer survivors.

Implications for cancer survivors: Cognitive decline, even early, may occur in many older adults with cancer. Baseline and regular follow-up assessments of cognitive symptoms are an important component of survivorship care.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal cancer; Geriatric assessment; Patient-reported cognitive decline.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms* / complications
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Registries
  • Resilience, Psychological*