Cognitive functions in patients treated by immunotherapy

Coordinator : F.Joly, M. Lange

Therapeutic advances allow cancer patients to live longer even in metastatic situation. Immunotherapy is one of these novel advanced treatments. However, sometimes cancer treatments can have neurologic toxicities such as cognitive impairments, as observed with chemotherapy as well as other targeted therapies. Nevertheless, altough the impact of chemotherapy and some targeted therapies on cognitive functions have now been recognized, no study has investigated the potential effect of immunotherapy agents on cognition yet.

Evaluate the incidence of cognitive difficulties (cognitive complaints and objective cognitive impairments) in cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy treatment.
Secondary objectives :

  • Evaluate the relationship between cognitive difficulties and anxiety, depression and fatigue,
  • Evaluate the relationship between objective cognitive dysfunctions and subjective cognitive complaints,
  • Evaluate the relationship between cognitive functioning (objective and subjective) and clinical characteristics such as stage at diagnosis, co-morbidities, co-medication, etc.
  • Evaluate the relationship between cognitive difficulties and blood tests.

Study methodology:
Longitudinal, multicentric pilot study with  blood samples. 100 patients expected.

Current study status: 
Open to inclusions. 63 patients enrolled.

4 centers : Centre François Baclesse, CHU de Caen, CHU de Lille, CHU d’Amiens.

Fondation Bristol-Myers Squibb pour la recherche en Immuno-Oncologie, Cancéropole Nord-Ouest (CNO), Fondation de France


  • Potential impact of immunotherapy agents on cognitive function in cancer patients. Joly F, Castel H, Tron L, Lange M, Vardy J. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2019 Aug 26. pii: djz168. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djz168. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID:31504664.
  • Immunothérapies du cancer : quel impact sur les fonctions cognitives ? [Immunotherapies of cancer: Is there any impact on patient cognitive functions?]. Castel H, Joly F. Med Sci (Paris). 2020 Aug-Sep;36(8-9):695-699. French. doi: 10.1051/medsci/2020139. Epub 2020 Aug 21. PMID: 32821042.