Cognitive impairment has been defined as a decline in function in one or multiple cognitive domains, including attention and concentration, executive function, information processing speed, language, visuospatial skill, psychomotor ability, and/or learning and memory. Patients with cancer often have referred to such problems as "chemo-brain" or "chemo fog," although patients who have not received chemotherapy also have reported this experience.
Among adults, cognitive impairment has been reported in up to 80% of patients with brain tumors, 70%–80% of patients with lung cancer, and 40% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia. It has also been reported in up to 75% of patients with breast cancer and in patients treated with bone marrow transplantation after high-dose chemotherapy. Cognitive impairment can continue for a long time after completion of treatment. Individuals treated for childhood cancers may have long-term changes in cognitive function, and early research in this area led to adjustment in treatments to lessen this potential effect.
This topic was updated on August 22, 2019. Learn more about these changes.