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Patient-reported outcomes and chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment in gynecologic malignancy


Objective Chemotherapy has multiple adverse effects, including chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment, the phenomenon colloquially referred to as ‘chemobrain’. The objective of this study was to understand patient-reported experiences of this phenomenon in relation to chemotherapy administration among gynecologic oncology patients.

Methods A prospective patient-reported outcomes program was implemented in the Gynecologic Oncology clinic of a tertiary academic institution in January 2018. Patients with endometrial or ovarian cancer who received chemotherapy were included through September 2019 in this cohort study. Patients completed the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire. Serial responses were compared before, during, and after chemotherapy using a mixed effects linear regression with random effects for repeated measures within patients and a fixed effect for endometrial versus ovarian cancer.

Results Fifty patients were included who completed a total of 152 patient-reported outcome measures. Thirty-five questionnaires were administered before chemotherapy, 59 during treatment, and 58 at a median of 161 days after the final cycle of chemotherapy. Seventy-one percent of patients reported no difficulties with concentration before chemotherapy, which remained stable after chemotherapy (72%). Sixty-six percent reported no difficulty with memory before chemotherapy versus 52% after chemotherapy. There were significant differences in feeling tension (p<0.001), worry (p<0.001), and depression (p=0.02) before and after chemotherapy on mixed effects linear regression, with higher levels of adverse emotional symptoms before chemotherapy administration compared with after. Women reported more interference with their social lives during chemotherapy (mean 1.08) compared with before (mean 0.85) and after chemotherapy (0.75, p=0.04).

Conclusions While no overt memory issues were discovered with serial administration of patient-reported outcome measures, rates of adverse emotional symptoms such as depression, tension, and worry diminished after chemotherapy administration. Further study is needed about the phenomenon of chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment using a larger cohort.

  • ovarian cancer
  • quality of life (PRO)/palliative care
  • uterine cancer

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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