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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Jun 1;97(11):854-6.

Cancer as a risk factor for long-term cognitive deficits and dementia.

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Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061, USA.


Previous studies have shown that cancer survivors frequently experience short-term cognitive deficits, but it is unknown how long these deficits last or whether they worsen over time. Using a co-twin control design, the cognitive function of 702 cancer survivors aged 65 years and older was compared with that of their cancer-free twins. Dementia rates were also compared in 486 of the twin pairs discordant for cancer. Cancer survivors overall, as well as individuals who had survived cancer for 5 or more years before cognitive testing, were more likely than their co-twins to have cognitive dysfunction (odds ratio [OR] = 2.10, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.36 to 3.24; P<.001; and OR = 2.71, 95% CI = 1.47 to 5.01; P<.001, respectively). Cancer survivors were also twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia as their co-twins, but this odds ratio did not reach statistical significance (OR = 2.0, 95% CI = 0.86 to 4.67; P = .10). These results suggest that cancer patients are at increased risk for long-term cognitive dysfunction compared with individuals who have never had cancer, even after controlling for the influence of genetic factors and rearing environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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