Course Title: CE 04: How Neuropsychology is Impacting Cancer Care (Schagen & Wefel)


Credit Hours: 3


Instructor(s) Sanne Schagen; Jeffery Wefel


Sanne B. Schagen, PhD Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology. The Netherlands Cancer Institute. Brain and Cognition Group, University of Amsterdam. Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Jeffrey S. Wefel, PhD, ABPP Section of Neuropsychology. Departments of Neuro-Oncology and Radiation Oncology. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Houston, Texas USA
CE Workshop # 4: How Neuropsychology is Impacting Cancer Care
Abstract & Learning Objectives: 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. With the growing community of cancer patients and the increasingly chronic nature of several common cancers, the management of symptoms, including cognitive symptoms, is an important part of health care. Both tumor and treatment side effects contribute to cognitive dysfunction and cognitive issues are among the most disturbing to survivors and caregivers. Neuropsychologists will increasingly encounter cancer patients. Fortunately, a growing body of literature is emerging to help guide neuropsychological practice. In this course we will focus on cognitive dysfunction in patients with adult-onset central nervous system (CNS) and non-CNS cancer. We will start with a brief introduction into cancer epidemiology, followed by part 1 on brain tumors. The neuropsychological correlates of lesion location, volume, and momentum will be discussed, as well as the ability of preoperative neuropsychological data to predict postoperative outcomes, the prognostic significance of cognitive function for survival and the cognitive impact of therapies targeting the CNS. Part two will be devoted to cognitive dysfunction in non-CNS cancer patients. We will discuss how cancer outside the CNS can influence cognition and how a variety of therapies not intended to target the CNS can affect cognition. This course will also cover technical, pharmacological and behavioral interventions to prevent and ameliorate cognitive dysfunction. The course requires no prior knowledge on cancer-related cognitive impairment but it will be most helpful for those encountering cancer patients in clinical care.Upon conclusion of this course, learners will be able to:
  • Describe the frequency and risk factors for cancer-related cognitive dysfunction
  • Summarize current concepts regarding pathophysiology and diagnosis of cancer-related cognitive dysfunction
  • List available clinical interventions for cancer-related cognitive dysfunction
Speaker Biography: Dr. Sanne Schagen I am a group leader in the Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology at The Netherlands Cancer Institute, and a staff member of the Brain and Cognition Group at the University of Amsterdam. My research centers around cognitive function in CNS and non-CNS cancer patients and aims to develop clinically useful tools for defining and understanding cognitive decline and improving cognitive function using evidence-based interventions. My research is of diverse nature – from neuropsychological assessments, the application of brain imaging techniques, experimental animal studies, to the perception and expression of psychosocial symptoms and the coping with these symptoms. My group currently consists of 8 PhD students and two postdocs. Over the years, I have established intensive interdisciplinary working relationships with psychologists, clinicians, nurses, biologists, radiologists, neurologists, social scientists, cancer researchers, but also with international cancer organizations and patient groups. Alongside my scientific activities, I am a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist at The Netherlands Cancer Institute, where I conduct neuropsychological examinations and provide guidance and interventions for those confronted with cognitive decline. Dr. Jeffery Wefel is a tenured Associate Professor and Chief of the Section of Neuropsychology with joint appointments in the Department of Neuro-Oncology and the Department of Radiation Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. As a board certified neuropsychologist, Dr. Wefel maintains an active consultation-liaison clinical practice where he conducts comprehensive neuropsychological assessment, presurgical fMRI of higher order cognitive function for neurosurgical planning, intraoperative cognitive testing, and interventions to adult cancer patients suffering from the central nervous system effects of cancer, cancer treatment, or other illnesses. Dr. Wefel’s extramurally funded research activities seek to characterize the prevalence, pattern, course, risks, and biologic and neural substrates for the development of cognitive dysfunction associated with cancer and cancer therapies. Ultimately, this will lead to identification and testing of interventions to prevent and/or minimize cognitive dysfunction. He is the cognitive study chair on numerous cooperative group, industry sponsored and investigator initiated trials involving patients with central nervous system and non-CNS cancer, many of which integrate cognitive and neuroimaging outcomes as well as exploration of genetic moderators of cognitive and brain outcomes. He has published over 100 manuscripts and book chapters. Dr. Wefel is a word leading expert in the effects of cancer and cancer therapy on patient’s cognitive function and quality of life. He is a Founder of the International Cognition and Cancer Task Force, Member of the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) Medical Advisory Board, Steering Committee Member of the NBTS Jumpstarting Brain Tumor Drug Development Coalition and FDA Clinical Trials Clinical Outcome Assessment Endpoints workshop, Executive Board Member of the RTOG/NRG Oncology Brain Tumor Committee and Patient Centered Outcome Committee, and an Executive Committee Member of the Brain Tumor Center at MD Anderson. He has been appointed as Executive Editor of the journal Neuro-Oncology Practice.