This review was guided by the PRISMA statement. The MEDLINE and Scopus databases were employed to search articles about CRCI in non-CNS cancer patients published from January 2004 to September 2019. Two types of research were reviewed: prospective studies addressing the effects of chemotherapy on cognition and systematic reviews about factors related with CRCI, also as neuroimaging findings and current available treatments.
Fifty-nine studies meeting the criteria were analyzed: 47 were longitudinal studies on cancer and cognition and 12 were reviews on risk factors, neuroimaging, and treatment. The majority of studies find cognitive impairment in patients with cancer treated with chemotherapy. The body of the literature on breast cancer is the most abundant, but there are also studies on colorectal, testicular, and lung cancer. Neuroimaging studies show changes in structure and activation in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Non-pharmacological treatment is effective for improving cognition and quality of life.
The occurrence of CRCI during the course of treatment in people with different types of cancer is frequent. Some risk factors have been identified, but CRCI is a complex phenomenon, with mediating factors related to cancer and treatment and moderating factors related with lifestyle and health.
This review highlights the importance of recognizing that this cognitive dysfunction is frequent, mild to moderate in nature but with great impact on quality of life.