A GP guide to cancer-related cognitive impairment

Patients who’ve been treated for cancer often report experiencing problems with memory, thinking and executive function.

Need to know:​​​​​​

  • Up to a third of people diagnosed with cancer experience persistent cancer-related cognitive impairment.
  • Cancer-related cognitive impairment typically affects memory, concentration, decision-making and general clarity of thought.
  • The magnitude of impairment is usually mild to moderate, and often improves over time.
  • Even mild cancer-related cognitive impairment can have a profound impact on patients’ daily function and sense of self.
  • Patients may benefit from validation, reassurance and assistance with managing symptoms.
  • Cognitive-based therapies and physical activity have the best evidence for assisting cancer-related cognitive impairment.
  • Addressing associated comorbidities such as depression, fatigue and insomnia may be useful.
  • Referral to and collaboration with other health professionals may be beneficial, including a psychologist, neuropsychologist, occupational