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Examining Chemotherapy-Related Cognitive Changes in Colorectal Cancer Patients: A Feasibility Trial

Dwek, M. R., Rixon, L., Simon, A. , Hurt, C. S. & Newman, S. P. (2016). Examining Chemotherapy-Related Cognitive Changes in Colorectal Cancer Patients: A Feasibility Trial. Cancer Open Access, 1(1), pp. 5-8.


Introduction: Research suggests that chemotherapy may be related to decline in patients’ cognitive functions.

Objectives: To assess the feasibility and acceptability of a multi-site study designed to examine the nature and extent of chemotherapy-related cognitive changes in colorectal cancer patients.

Method: Data was collected over 8 months using objective and self-reported measures of cognitive functioning and self-reported quality of life, fatigue and mood questionnaires. The assessment battery was administered pre- and mid-chemotherapy treatment to a consecutive sample of colorectal cancer patients across three Londonbased NHS Trusts. Participants included patients who had undergone colorectal surgery and were scheduled to have adjuvant chemotherapy treatment, or no further cancer treatment.

Main outcome measures: Recruitment procedures, rate of recruitment, suitability of exclusion/inclusion criteria, acceptability of data collection procedures and the battery, and attrition rates.

Results: From 1 April 2014 to 1 December 2014, 42 eligible participants were invited to take part in the trial. Of the 17 that completed pre-chemotherapy assessments, only 1 withdrew at follow-up due to reasons of ill health from disease recurrence. All participants completed the entire battery and indicated that they found the trial acceptable.

Conclusions: What went wrong: Strained researcher resources; loss of eligible participants to competing studies, restrictive upper age limit.

Possible solutions: Removal of upper age limit, an increased dedicated research team to increase rate of recruitment. The large multi-site study is feasible with suggested amendments and is acceptable to patients and medical teams. Acceptability of trial to medical teams is further evidenced by requests of collaboration from two additional London based NHS Trusts.

Lessons learned: This feasibility trial provides evidence to other researchers designing similar studies in this area of an acceptable design and the need for appropriate funding for resources to recruit large enough consecutive samples of patients with solid tumour cancers.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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