Survivors of head and neck cancers (HNCs) are at risk for delayed neurocognitive deficits (NCD) for at least two years following radiotherapy or chemotherapy, according to a prospective longitudinal study published recently in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.
The study authors, based at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Ontario, assessed neurocognitive function and self-reported symptoms in 80 patients with histologically proven HNC requiring definitive chemoradiotherapy or radiotherapy and in 40 healthy controls. They conducted a 90-minute neurocognitive test battery at four points: baseline (≤2 weeks before starting treatment), at the end of treatment (6 months after baseline), and at 12 and 24 months after baseline.
Neurocognitive test scores were converted to age-corrected z scores and reported as mean scores, standardized regression-based scores, and frequencies of impairments in intellectual capacity, concentration, memory, executive function, processing speed, and motor dexterity. A multivariable analysis was used to identify factors associated with NCD two years following treatment.