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Cognitive decline after major oncological surgery in the elderly

  • M. Plas
    Affiliations
    Department of Surgical Oncology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • E. Rotteveel
    Affiliations
    Department of Surgical Oncology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands

    Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • G.J. Izaks
    Affiliations
    University Center for Geriatric Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • J.M. Spikman
    Affiliations
    Department of Neuropsychology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • H. van der Wal-Huisman
    Affiliations
    Department of Surgical Oncology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • B. van Etten
    Affiliations
    Department of Colorectal Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • A.R. Absalom
    Affiliations
    Department of Anesthesiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • M.J.E. Mourits
    Affiliations
    Department of Gynaecological Oncology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • G.H. de Bock
    Affiliations
    Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • B.L. van Leeuwen
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author: Department of Surgical Oncology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, HPC BA31, P.O. Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands. Fax: +31 50 3611745.
    Affiliations
    Department of Surgical Oncology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands
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Published:November 01, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2017.09.024

      Highlights

      • In the elderly oncological patients, postoperative cognitive decline occurs in up to 12%.
      • Advanced age, major surgery and lower pre-operative Mini–Mental State Examination score are risk factors.
      • Of the cognitive domains, executive function is the most vulnerable to decline.

      Abstract

      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]: 47–60) had improved cognitive test scores, whereas 26 (12%, 95% CI: 7.6–16) showed cognitive decline at 3 months postoperatively. In patients aged >75 years, the incidence of overall cognitive decline 3 months postoperatively was 18% (95% CI: 9.3–27). In patients with lower pre-operative Mini–Mental State Examination (MMSE) score (≤26) the incidence was 37% (95% CI: 18–57), and in patients undergoing major surgery it was 18% (95% CI: 10.6–26). Of the cognitive domains, executive function was the most vulnerable to 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.

      Keywords

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