In a nutshell
This study evaluated mental functioning in older survivors of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This study concluded that these individuals may have some mental function decline and lower mental function compared to individuals who did not have cancer.
Research suggests that cancer treatments have been shown to cause brain changes. These changes may affect mental function in cancer survivors. Older patients have a high risk of developing mental function decline. This can negatively impact their independence in day-to-day life.
Previous studies have looked at mental function among survivors of breast cancer. However, little is known about mental function among survivors of other types of cancer, including NHL.
Methods & findings
This study had 63 long-term survivors (more than 5 years) of NHL who were aged 65 or older (survivor group). 61 individuals of the same age who did not have cancer before were also included (control group). Mental function was measured using neuropsychological tests.
On average, the NHL survivor group had more long-term medical conditions compared to the control group (3.4 conditions vs. 2.3 conditions). NHL survivors were also taking more medications than individuals in the control group (3.4 medications vs. 2.3 medications).
NHL survivors had slightly poorer memory performance compared to the control group. This included immediate recall (43.2 points vs. 46.3 points) and delayed recall (9.3 points vs. 10.5 points). However, NHL survivors had significantly poorer executive functions compared to the control group (47.9 points vs. 32.1 points). Executive functions include mental skills that help get things done.
On average, the NHL survivor group took 2.66 times longer to complete the Stroop test compared to the control group. This test measures attention. A low score on this test indicates poor attention. The survivor group also took 2.84 times longer to complete the MFTC test. This test measures processing speed, or how long it takes a person to understand and react to something.
The bottom line
This study concluded that older survivors of NHL had lower mental function compared to individuals who did not have cancer.
The fine print
This study had a very small number of participants. Also, the authors did not test the association between a certain type of NHL or certain treatments and mental performance. More studies are needed.
Published By :
Journal of geriatric oncology
Jan 31, 2020
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