Cognitive behavioral therapy for cancer-related cognitive dysfunction

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Purpose of review

To provide the reader with an overview of the cognitive-behavioral conceptualization of cancer-related cognitive dysfunction (CRCD) and how cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can play an important role in treatment.

Recent findings

Recent findings show that Memory and Attention Adaptation Training (MAAT), a CBT developed to help cancer survivors develop adaptive skills to improve daily cognitive performance and emotional coping, may be an efficacious treatment of CRCD and can be delivered through videoconference technology to improve survivor access to care.


The etiology of CRCD remains largely undetermined and likely is produced by multiple mechanisms. This can include neuronal death, microvascular damage, inflammatory processes, and psychological factors of perceptions of inadequate cognitive capacity to meet performance demands and related emotional distress. As a result, there are a variety of treatments currently being researched. More research with larger sample sizes, multiple clinicians and multiple sites are needed to confirm efficacy, but CBT approaches such as Memory and Attention Adaptation Training that address multiple psychological factors involved may offer a flexible nonpharmacological approach to CRCD that optimizes quality of life outcomes.

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