Cognitive decline after major oncological surgery in the elderly

Plas, M., Rotteveel, E., Izaks, G. J., Spikman, J. M., van der Wal-Huisman, H., van Etten, B., Absalom, A. R., Mourits, M. J. E., de Bock, G. H. & van Leeuwen, B. L., Nov-2017, In : European Journal of Cancer. 86, p. 394-402 9 p.

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  • Cognitive decline after major oncological surgery in the elderly

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Background: Elderly patients undergoing oncological surgery experience postoperative cognitive decline. The aims of this study were to examine the incidence of cognitive decline 3 months after surgery and identify potential patient-, disease- and surgery-related risk factors for postoperative cognitive decline in onco-geriatric patients.

Methods: A consecutive series of elderly patients (>= 65 years) undergoing surgery for the removal of a solid tumour were included (n = 307). Cognitive performance was assessed pre-operatively and 3 months postoperatively. Postoperative decline was defined as a decline in scores of cognitive tests of >= 25% on >= 2 of 5 tests.

Results: Of the patients who had completed the assessments, 117 (53%, 95% confidence interval[CI]: 47e60) had improved cognitive test scores, whereas 26 (12%, 95% CI: 7.6e16)showed cognitive decline at 3 months postoperatively. In patients aged >75 years, the incidenceof overall cognitive decline 3 months postoperatively was 18% (95% CI: 9.3e27). Inpatients with lower pre-operative MinieMental State Examination (MMSE) score (26)the incidence was 37% (95% CI: 18e57), and in patients undergoing major surgery it was18% (95% CI: 10.6e26). Of the cognitive domains, executive function was the most vulnerableto decline.

Conclusion: About half of the elderly patients show improvement in postoperative cognitive performance after oncological surgery, whereas 12% show cognitive decline. Advanced age, lower pre-operative MMSE score and major surgery are risk factors for cognitive decline at 3 months postoperatively and should be taken into account in the clinical decision-making progress. Research to develop interventions to preserve quality of life should focus on this high-risk subpopulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-402
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2017


  • Age Factors, Aged, Aging, Cognition, Cognitive Dysfunction, Executive Function, Female, Humans, Male, Memory, Mental Status and Dementia Tests, Neoplasms, Netherlands, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Surgical Procedures, Operative, Time Factors, Trail Making Test, Treatment Outcome, Journal Article, Observational Study

ID: 49774770