Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Coverage from Every Angle

CLL-Related Cognitive Function: Disease Biology or Treatment Effect?

By: Dana A. Elya, MS, RD, CDN
Posted: Friday, May 8, 2020

Patients with higher-risk chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) have experienced impairments in executive function and memory, suggesting that disease biology may be a contributor to cancer-related cognitive impairment independent of treatment. According to Michelle C. Janelsins, PhD, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, and colleagues, larger studies are needed to examine the risk of cancer-related cognitive impairment associated with high-risk CLL, to better understand cancer-related cognitive impairment possibly linked to chemoimmunotherapy and targeted agents, and to explore potential interactions between treatment and risk. These cross-sectional study findings were published in Leukemia & Lymphoma.

Researchers used CLL as a model to study the differential roles of disease biology and treatment in cancer-related cognitive impairment. A total of 150 patients with CLL completed objective neuropsychology tests: 100 patients were naive to treatment, 50 patients received chemotherapy, and 84 patients had higher-risk disease.

Cognitive outcomes in relation to risk and treatment were examined with sociodemographic-adjusted linear regression models. Higher-risk patients recalled two fewer words on a memory task and took 15 seconds longer on an executive function task compared with lower-risk patients, independent of treatment. In addition, treated patients reported greater cognitive difficulties than did treatment-naive patients but did not perform worse on objective measures.

“Understanding the trajectory of cancer-related cognitive impairment in CLL and its predictors will allow us to design targeted interventions to preserve cognitive function…,” concluded the study authors.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interests.

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