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ASCO 2019: CLL Society’s Dr. Koffman’s Pick #10 “Cognitive Function in CLL or chronic lymphocytic leukemia”

In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge. All articles and interviews are informational only, should never be considered medical advice, and should never be acted on without review with your health care team.

Dr. Koffman, the Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the CLL Society, counts down his top ten CLL related abstract from ASCO or the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting held May 31 – June 4, 2019 Chicago, IL.


Cognitive function in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/ Examining effects of disease, treatment, and inflammation.

We all have heard of “chemo brain” but that may be a gross oversimplification and partial misstatement of what is really happening for cancer patients, at least in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.


  • Patients with high risk CLL such as 17p deletion were significantly more cognitively impaired than those with low risk disease.
  • Those who had received treatment subjectively felt less mentally capable, but the objective tests didn’t bear that out.
  • Confusingly, some inflammatory markers were directly related, while some were inversely related to the degree of impairment.


The main conclusion is that cognitive challenges for those of us with chronic lymphocytic leukemia are real and significant, but their causes are poorly understood. They may have more to do with the aggressive nature of the CLL than with the treatment received. More research is clearly needed to get answers.

Here is my video:

Here is the ASCO abstract: Cognitive function in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/ Examining effects of disease, treatment, and inflammation

Thank you for reading and watching.

Stay strong, we are all in this together.

Brian Koffman, EVP and CMO, CLL Society