Evaluation of cognition in cancer patients: Special focus on the elderly

Andrea K. Bial, Richard L. Schilsky, Greg A. Sachs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: The risks of both cognitive dysfunction and most cancers increase with age. A literature review was undertaken to identify how cognitive issues in older patients were being assessed in the oncology literature. Methods: A systematic literature search was undertaken using a number of different search terms and databases to find all relevant articles in oncology and internal medicine journals. Results: Eighty-eight articles were included in the review. Just over half of the articles studied a mixture of cancer types and had fewer than 100 patients. The vast majority of patients being studied were <65 years of age. While a little over half of the articles used ≥3 neuropsychological tests to assess cognition, more than 60 different tests were used to assess cognition. Forty-one percent of the studies were prospective trials, with most of the rest divided between cross-sectional and observational. One-fifth of the articles involved patients at end-of-life. Conclusion: The oncology literature contains little information about cognition in older cancer patients. More systematic and comprehensive studies of this important aspect of cancer care in the elderly are necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-255
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Cognition
  • Delirium
  • Dementia
  • Elderly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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