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Axis 4 : « Cancer and Neurosciences »

Steering committee: F. Joly, H. Castel-Gandolfo, B. Giffard.

Impact of cancer and treatments on cognitive functions and quality of life

The Cancéropôle Nord-Ouest has developed a multidisciplinary program, including clinical approach and translational research, focused on the impact of cancer and treatments on cognitive functions. This program, never done in France, regroups clinicians,  psychologists, neuropsychologists, biologists and sociology researchers from Caen, Rouen Lille and Brussels who have expertise on evaluation of cognition.

1) Expertise and validation of questionnaires

A French group of experts on neuropsychological tests are developing some guideline for using neuro-psychological tests in oncology trials. The group has valided the first French self reported questionnaire on cognitive impact of treatment among patients treated for cancer and participate at the International Cognitive and Cancer Task Force.

2) To understand the impact on cognitive functions of chemotherapy among elderly patients

A longitudinal multi-centric study supported by the French National Cancer Institute (INCa) and including 200 patients is starting among patients of more than 65-years who received adjuvant chemotherapy for colorectal or breast cancers. Cognitive battery of tests,  quality of life evaluation, geriatric assessments and biological tests are performed before, at 6 months, 1 and 2 years of follow-up.
For a subgroup of patients, a complementary neuropsychologic assessment and an imaging study is proposed to understand neuropsychological and physiopathological mechanisms of the observed deficits. A mice model, allowing behavioural tests, is used in parallel to the clinical study and the direct impact of chemotherapy on hippocampus cell plasticity and memory is evaluated. For patients who develop cognitive impairment a sociologic approach is conducted among the family and/or the friends to assess the impact of cognitive impairment on the social life.

3) The explore the impact of new targeted therapy on cognitive function

A new multicentric trial is starting among patients with metastatic kidney cancer who are treated by anti-angiogenic treatments. The objective if this original trial is is to evaluate the side effect of this targeted therapy (such as fatigue and/or depression) and to study if the treatment has an impact on cognitive functions. It will be the first trial to explore this question with this new treatment.

2011 - 2014

The research objectives of the 2010-2014 programme for Axis 4, continuing on from the PROCAN programme, are to further our understanding of the negative impacts of cancer and cancer treatments on patients' cognitive functions, using animal models, new neuropsychological techniques and specific neuroimaging. A clinical trial will be conducted specifically to investigate the impact on patients' compliance with oral chemotherapy treatments. In the light of the results of the patient survey conducted during the last three-year programme, plans are currently underway for an intervention study using remedial cognitive workshops for patients.

  • Flagship programme: “Cancer and Cognitive Function”