From the Journals

Older NHL survivors show worse cognitive decline



Older long-term survivors of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) may have worse cognitive outcomes compared with the noncancer aging population, according to a cross-sectional study.

The findings suggest additional research is needed to better understand cognitive decline in older survivors of NHL.

“The aim of the present study was to examine the difference in cognitive status between a group of long-term older survivors of NHL compared with a group of noncancer controls of the same age,” wrote Domenico La Carpia, MD, of Fondazione ANT Italia Onlus, Florence, Italy, and colleagues.

The researchers conducted a multicenter cross-sectional cohort study involving 63 long-term survivors of NHL and 61 age-matched controls. Their report was published in the Journal of Geriatric Oncology.

Eligible survivors and controls were aged 65 years and older. Among both groups, the mean age of study participants was 74 years, and most survivors were women (58.7%).

While cognitive decline was assessed via standardized neuropsychological testing, the team also evaluated polypharmacy, functional status, and level of multimorbidity in the cohort.

Other clinical data, including the time from complete remission, type of treatment received, and histopathological type of tumor, were collected from patient charts and included in the analysis.

After analysis, the researchers found that NHL survivors had a higher mean number of chronic conditions (3.4 vs. 2.3; P = .003), were receiving more medications (3.4 vs. 2.3; P = .03), and had worse functional status compared with controls.

In addition, survivors had impaired executive functioning compared with control subjects (Trail Making Test B-A, 47.9 vs. 32.1; P = .04), but scores on the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) did not differ between the groups.

“A small, statistically significant difference was also observed in verbal memory scores between the two groups,” they reported.

The researchers acknowledged that a key limitation was the cross-sectional nature of the study; hence, causality cannot be inferred from the data.

“Comprehensive geriatric assessment for older cancer survivors is advisable to identify those individuals who are at highest risk of developing disability and to implement tailored early interventions,” they concluded.

No funding sources were reported. The authors reported having no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: La Carpia D et al. J Geriatr Oncol. 2020 Jan 31. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2020.01.007.

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