Research Article| Volume 13, ISSUE 1, P27-32, January 2022

Relationship between cognitive functioning and frailty in older breast cancer survivors

Published:August 05, 2021DOI:



      The relationship between cognitive function and frailty in older, long-term breast cancer survivors was examined.

      Materials and methods

      Breast cancer survivors who were diagnosed and treated at 60 years of age or above and were 5–15 year disease-free survivors and non-cancer controls matched on age and education were evaluated with neuropsychological tests and the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment which was used to assess frailty based on a deficit accumulation frailty index (DAFI).


      Unadjusted regression analyses revealed that cancer survivors scored significantly lower on the Language (P = 0.015), Attention, Processing Speed, Executive Function (APE) (P = 0.015), and Learning and Memory (LM) (P = 0.023) domains compared to controls. However, only the LM domain remained significantly different (P = 0.002) in the adjusted analysis. Survivors had significantly higher DAFI scores compared to controls (p = 0.006) and significantly more survivors were categorized as pre-frail or frail (35%) compared to controls (23%, P = 0.009). Increasing frailty scores were associated with worse cognitive performance across all domains (all Ps ≤ 0.004). For the LM domain, there was a significant interaction (P = 0.019) between DAFI score and survivorship vs control status. Survivors demonstrated a significant linear decline in LM scores as DAFI scores increased, whereas controls demonstrated comparable scores between the robust and pre-frail DAFI groups, demonstrating decline in the frailty group only.


      Older, long-term breast cancer survivors had lower cognitive performance and higher levels of frailty compared to controls. For the Learning and Memory domain, the decline in performance began in the pre-frail range for survivors, but not controls.


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