Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Oncol Pract. 2012 Jan;8(1):30-4. doi: 10.1200/JOP.2011.000231. Epub 2011 Nov 22.

Prevalence of self-reported memory problems in adult cancer survivors: a national cross-sectional study.

Author information

  • 1University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center; University of Miami; Holtz Children's Hospital, University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, Miami, FL; University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester; and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.



Cancer and its treatments can impair cognitive function, especially memory, leading to diminished quality of life. Prevalence studies of cancer treatment-related memory impairment have not been conducted in the adult-onset cancer population.


To determine the prevalence of self-reported memory (SRM) problems in people with and without a history of cancer, we analyzed data from a large, nationally representative sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized US population. Participants answered the yes-or-no question, "Are you limited in any way because of difficulty remembering or because you experience periods of confusion?" Age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, poverty, and general health were controlled.


The sample (N = 9,819) consisted of 4,862 men and 4,957 women age 40 years and older. There were 1,938 blacks, 5,552 whites, 1,998 Hispanics, and 331 participants categorized as other race/multiracial. Of these, 1,305 reported a history of cancer; 8,514 did not. Memory problems were self-reported more often by participants with a history of cancer (14%) than by those without (8%). Having had cancer was independently associated with SRM impairment (adjusted odds ratio, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.83). Other predictors of memory impairment were age, lower education, lower income, and poorer general health (P < .01 for all). Participants with cancer had a 40% greater likelihood of reporting memory problems relative to those without cancer.


Cancer history independently predicted SRM impairment. Prevalence of SRM impairment in people with a history of cancer/cancer treatment is substantial and increasing. Health care providers should assess and be ready to treat memory impairment in patients with a history of cancer.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk