Neurocognitive function and psychological distress in young adults (YA) with cancer. Conference Paper uri icon

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  • 199 Background: Cancer treatment is associated with neurocognitive sequelae and changes in structural and functional brain imaging in older adults, even if they do not receive central nervous system directed therapy. Because the brain continues to develop into the 3rd decade of life, YA (age 18-39 yrs) may also be vulnerable to neurocognitive dysfunction. In YA, cancer disrupts acquisition of developmental milestones and is associated with psychological distress. This study aims to characterize neurocognitive functions and its relation to psychological distress in YA. Here we present baseline results of our longitudinal study. Methods: In this prospective, inception-cohort study, we recruited 3 groups of YA from ambulatory oncology clinics: YA with cancers (YAC; lymphoma, breast, gynecology, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, sarcoma) who required chemotherapy (YAC+, n = 55), YAC who do not require it (YAC-, n = 31), and healthy YA (HYA, n = 54). Participants completed a 2-hr battery of standardized neurocognitive tests and validated self-report questionnaires. YAC were assessed within 3 months of diagnosis, and YAC+prior to chemotherapy. Test scores were converted to age-corrected scaled scores and transformed to z-scores (mean 0, SD 1). A global neurocognitive function score and 6 domain scores were evaluated. Results: There were no group differences in neurocognitive domains (ANOVA, all p-values > .1), or in the number of impaired test scores (defined as z < -1). YAC+ reported greater symptoms of somatic distress (p = .001) and anxiety (p = .004) than both HYA and YAC-. Symptoms were unrelated to neurocognitive performance (ρ < .16 for all). However, each group had poorer memory compared to population norms (1-sample t-tests: YAC+ p = .007; YAC- p = .047; HYA p = .023). Conclusions: Prior to treatment, neurocognitive functions of YAC were not different from HYA, suggesting that cancer itself is not a neurocognitive risk factor in YA. It is important to use appropriate control groups, rather than relying on normative data for comparison. We continue to follow this cohort to document neurocognitive function and distress over time, and to identify risk factors that contribute to outcomes in YA.


  • Edelstein, Kim
  • D'Agostino, Norma Mammone
  • Pond, Gregory
  • Aubin, Sylvie
  • Matthew, Andrew
  • Gupta, Abha A
  • Kavan, Petr
  • Crump, Michael
  • Bedard, Philippe L
  • Schuh, Andre C
  • Hodgson, David C
  • Wahl, Kate
  • Simpson, Rebecca
  • Vuong, Te
  • Muanza, Thierry
  • Batist, Gerald
  • Bernstein, Lori J

publication date

  • January 20, 2016