Cognitive impairment in cancer patients can be caused by various factors; in approximately 30% of cancer patients, the symptoms appear before starting treatment. Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis (PLE) is a rare disease associated with an autoimmune response, and is characterized by memory loss, depression, and personality changes; it is one of the potential causes of cognitive dysfunction in cancer patients. Two patients were previously diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and maintained clinical stability; after suffering a rapid change in personality and sudden cognitive decline, colorectal cancer was diagnosed within a few months. The patients did not meet the diagnostic criteria for PLE in several tests. The symptoms improved after the underlying cancer was treated, and the patients returned to their previous stable state. Sudden cognitive impairment may appear as an early cancer symptom, and PLE is considered an atypical cause for these symptoms. However, in patients with unexplained PLE-like symptoms who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for PLE, probable etiologies to be considered are the gut–brain connection, CD8+
T-cell-mediated limbic encephalitis, and somatic mutations in dementia-related genes. Currently, few studies have investigated these symptoms, and further research will offer significant therapeutic strategies for cognitive impairment in cancer patients.
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