Association of Fatigue Intensification with Cognitive Impairment during Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Cancer-related fatigue is a common complaint during cancer treatment and is often associated with cognitive impairment. This study examined cognitive deficits that were associated with fatigue symptoms during external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) in men with localized prostate cancer.

A total of 36 participants were enrolled and followed up at baseline, 24 h, 7 days, 14 days after EBRT initiation, at midpoint, and at completion of EBRT. Fatigue was measured by self-report using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - Fatigue (FACT-F), and cognitive impairment by the Computer Assessment of Mild Cognitive Impairment (CAMCI®).

Subjects with increased fatigue during EBRT reported a significant decline in cognitive function and had difficulties with CAMCI®'s route finding and item recall tasks during EBRT. Increased fatigue during EBRT was associated with perceived cognitive difficulties in executive function and recognition memory, but not with attention or verbal memory.

Our results suggest that there might be specific cognitive domains that are associated with increased fatigue during EBRT. These findings will provide important information for targeting specific cognitive domains using pharmacotherapy or behavioral interventions. CAMCI® is a valuable tool for psycho social providers to detect subtle cognitive impairment in fatigued cancer patients in a clinical setting.

Oncology. 2018 Mar 07 [Epub ahead of print]

Li Rebekah Feng, Alexandra Espina, Leorey N Saligan