Cognitive deficits lead to 'loss of self' among cancer patients

October 2, 2007
Cognitive Changes Symptoms Rating
At least 50 percent of respondents rated their symptoms as moderate to severe in each of the categories. Additional areas of impact included the ability to learn and/or retain new information and duties, intolerance to external stimuli and issues with transposition/dyslexia. Credit: © Hurricane Voices Breast Cancer Foundation

For some cancer patients, side effects impacting cognition don't end with the last dose of chemotherapy.

According to a new survey, the cognitive impairment experienced by 14 to 45 percent of cancer patients can be long-lasting and severely affect their personal and professional lives. Patients report that the lack of concentration, short-term memory loss, difficulty with word recall and the inability to organize or multi-task have led to significant problems at home and in the workplace.

"One of the most poignant and striking findings from this study is that patients most severely affected no longer identify with the person they were prior to treatment," said Janet Colantuono, executive director of Hurricane Voices Breast Cancer Foundation, the nonprofit that conducted the survey. "Contributing to this 'loss of self' is the loss of credibility, respect of others, self esteem and employment."

In addition to exploring the impact on their personal and professional lives, the Cognitive Changes Related to Cancer Treatment survey also uncovered that 42 percent of the survey respondents describe their doctors as dismissive or indifferent when it came to addressing their concerns.

"This survey clearly demonstrates the serious ramifications that enduring cognitive impairment can have on cancer patients' lives," said Dr. Ian Tannock, a leading researcher in the area of cognition and cancer. "It also underscores an immediate need for education in the medical community to bridge the gap between patients' concern and oncologists' understanding of this issue."

Colantuono said she, too, expects the study to result in increased awareness among medical professionals so they can better assist patients struggling with cognitive impairments following treatment.

"Results of this survey enhance current scientific research - presenting a collective voice that illuminates the patient experience," adds Colantuono. "We anticipate that it will also help break through obstacles in the doctor/patient relationship."

Source: Hurricane Voices Breast Cancer Foundation

Explore further: Aging tests yield varying results

Related Stories

Aging tests yield varying results

November 15, 2017
Whether it's an on-line quiz, a $300 chromosome test or an $800 blood panel, a lot of people seem to be interested in whether they're aging faster or slower than their chronological age would suggest.

Bad break: Osteoporosis-related bone fractures linked to air pollution

November 10, 2017
Exposure to air pollution is associated with osteoporosis-related loss of bone mineral density and risk of bone fractures, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. ...

Resilience intervention improves well-being in young patients with cancer

October 24, 2017
A new randomized clinical trial of a pilot program found that a brief in-person intervention can improve psychosocial health in a particularly vulnerable population - adolescents and young adults living with cancer.

Cognition affected in subgroups of breast cancer patients

May 23, 2014
(HealthDay)—Overall, cancer does not seem to affect pretreatment cognition in older women with breast cancer, compared to healthy controls; however, cognition may be affected in some subgroups of breast cancer patients, ...

Why women quit breast cancer drugs early

December 9, 2011
Why do so many postmenopausal women who are treated for estrogen-sensitive breast cancer quit using drugs that help prevent the disease from recurring?

Cancer research pioneer works with Apple on mobile app to track breast cancer survivors' experiences

March 10, 2015
UCLA cancer research pioneer Dr. Patricia Ganz and collaborators Apple and Sage Bionetworks today announced the launch of Share the Journey: Mind, Body and Wellness after Breast Cancer, a patient-centered mobile app that ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests colon cancer cells carry bacteria with them when they metastasize

November 24, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers working at Harvard University has found evidence that suggests a certain type of bacteria found in colon cancer tumors makes its way to tumors in other body parts by traveling with ...

Promising new treatment for rare pregnancy cancer leads to remission in patients

November 24, 2017
An immunotherapy drug can be used to cure women of a rare type of cancer arising from pregnancy when existing treatments have failed.

Researchers unravel novel mechanism by which tumors grow resistant to radiotherapy

November 23, 2017
A Ludwig Cancer Research study has uncovered a key mechanism by which tumors develop resistance to radiation therapy and shown how such resistance might be overcome with drugs that are currently under development. The discovery ...

African Americans face highest risk for multiple myeloma yet underrepresented in research

November 23, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

Encouraging oxygen's assault on iron may offer new way to kill lung cancer cells

November 22, 2017
Blocking the action of a key protein frees oxygen to damage iron-dependent proteins in lung and breast cancer cells, slowing their growth and making them easier to kill. This is the implication of a study led by researchers ...

One-size treatment for blood cancer probably doesn't fit all, researchers say

November 22, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.