Cognitive impairment and chemotherapy: a brief overview

Milena Vitali, Carla Ida Ripamonti, Fausto Roila, Claudia Proto, Diego Signorelli, Martina Imbimbo, Giulia Corrao, Angela Brissa, Gallucci Rosaria, Filippo de Braud, Marina Chiara Garassino, Giuseppe Lo Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Patients with cancer are experiencing long-term survival following chemotherapy, but the treatment may also be associated with short and long-term toxicity, including the possibility of cognitive dysfunction. A literature overview indicated a significant association between chemotherapy and cognitive impairment but prospective longitudinal research is warranted to examine the degree and persisting nature of this decline. Although chemotherapeutic agents are unlikely to cross the blood-brain barrier, it has been alleged that the occurrence of neurotoxicity is linked to the pro-inflammatory cytokine pathways. Moreover in most cases many other factors could play an ancillary and concomitant role. The contribution of hormone therapy as well as emotional, social, behavioural and genetic factors should always be considered. Especially physical activity and cognitive training appear promising in the management of cognitive impairment but additional studies are required to establish their efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy-related toxicity
  • Cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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