In a nutshell
This study investigated the effects of chemotherapy after surgery on cognitive performance (CP; attention, memory and thinking processes) in patients with colorectal cancer. Researchers suggested that patients who received chemotherapy after surgery had a decreased CP.
Surgery followed by chemotherapy is the standard treatment for advanced colorectal cancer. Chemotherapy has been proven to cause CP symptoms in breast cancer survivors. These symptoms may include decreased attention, slow thinking, and memory problems. They are referred to as ‘chemobrain’. This might be caused by a lesion in the brain caused by the chemotherapy. It is unknown if patients with colorectal cancer have the same CP symptoms after chemotherapy.
Methods & findings
This study included information about 85 patients with high-risk colorectal cancer (stage 2 and 3). All patients were treated with surgery. 59 patients also had chemotherapy after surgery. 26 received no chemotherapy (control group). The CP of these patients was evaluated before and 12 months after starting the treatment. Chemotherapy treatment consisted of a combination of 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin with or without oxaliplatin.
At follow-up, no difference was seen in attention or memory. However, patients who received chemotherapy had a worse execution of functions (the ability to plan and organize tasks and problem solving).
The bottom line
This study showed that chemotherapy after surgery is associated with worse CP in patients with colorectal cancer.
The fine print
This study had a limited number of patients and a short follow-up period. Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Published By :
Clinical Colorectal Cancer
Sep 13, 2018
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