The loss of cognitive functions is a symptom that impairs the quality of life .The aim of this study is to analyze cognitive functioning in cancer patients who initiate chemotherapy and to study the relationship between coping strategies and psychological distress.
NEOcoping is a national, multicenter, cross-sectional, prospective study of the Continuous Care Group of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology conducted between January 2016 and January 2018 in 14 Medical Oncology departments in Spain. The population consisted of patients with histologically confirmed, non-advanced cancer treated with surgery for which international clinical guidelines considered that adjuvant treatment could be an option.The information was collected and updated by medical oncologists through a web-based platform (www.neocoping.es). Questionnaires for doctors and patients were filled out before starting adjuvant chemotherapy and at the end of the treatment. The applied tests were: Mini-Mental Adjustment to Cancer (Mini-MAC), EORTC core quality of life questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30, cognitive function scale), and Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI-18).
Seven hundred and ninety-five patients were recruited. The median age was 58 years and 60% were women. Most were married or partnered (77%) and had a primary level of education (56%). The most common employment status was retired (59%). The primary tumor localization was mainly colorectal (41%) and breast (34%) and the stage was I-II (56%) or III (44%).The results indicate that patients who perceived their physical condition or chemotherapy interfered with their cognitive functions had more anxious coping strategies characterized by constant preoccupation with the type of health, fear of cancer recurrence and this led to a search for frequent reaffirmation (p = 0.008). The cognitive function problems were negatively related with somatization (p < 0.001), depression (p < 0.001) and anxiety (p < 0.001).
The perception of impaired cognitive abilities and uncertainty about the prognosis of cancer can make it difficult for patients to adapt to their situation, deteriorate quality of life and increase emotional distress.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Continuous Care Group of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM).
Sociedad Española de Oncología Médica (SEOM).
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.