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 April 3, 2017.