Noncentral nervous system cancer and the brain share an interesting and complex relation, with an emerging body of evidence showing that cancer patients are at an increased risk of developing cognitive problems. In contrast, population-based studies consistently find an inverse link between cancer and dementia, that is patients with dementia having a lower risk of subsequently developing cancer, and cancer patients being less often diagnosed with dementia. Different biological processes such as inversely activated cell proliferation and survival pathways have been suggested to have an important role underlying this inverse association. However, the effect of methodological biases including surveillance or survival bias has not been completely ruled out, calling into question the inverse direction of the association between cancer and dementia. In fact, emerging evidence now suggests that cancer and dementia might share a positive association. This narrative review summarises the current literature on cancer, cognitive problems and dementia. Moreover, different strategies will be discussed to reduce the impact of potential methodological biases on the association between cancer and dementia, trying to reveal the true direction of this link.

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European Journal of Clinical Investigation
Department of Epidemiology

van der Willik, K., Schagen, S., & Ikram, A. (2018). Cancer and dementia: Two sides of the same coin?. European Journal of Clinical Investigation. doi:10.1111/eci.13019