Review finds some evidence for 'chemo brain' in breast cancer survivors

September 4, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—A large meta-analysis conducted by researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center has concluded that breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy are at risk for mild cognitive deficits after treatment. The meta-analysis, or analytic review of previously published studies, found that study participants on average had mild impairments in verbal abilities (such as difficulty choosing words) and visuospatial abilities (such as getting lost more easily). The study noted that cognitive functioning varies across survivors, with some reporting no impairments and others reporting more severe or pervasive deficits.

The study was published in a recent issue of the . The research was supported in part by the , part of the National Institutes of Health, through grant number K07 CA138499.

"The objective of our analysis was to clarify existing research on cognitive functioning in patients who had received standard dose chemotherapy for at least six months previously," said study lead author Heather S.L. Jim, Ph.D., an assistant member at Moffitt whose research focuses on the psychosocial and behavioral aspects of cancer survivorship. "Earlier studies had reported conflicting evidence on the severity of cognitive deficits, especially over the long term."

Although this is an active area of research, an overall analysis of the studies had not been performed since 2006, explained the researchers.

"Our analysis indicated that patients previously treated with chemotherapy performed significantly worse on tests of verbal ability than individuals without cancer," noted co-author Paul B. Jacobsen, Moffitt senior member and associate center director of Population Sciences. "In addition, patients treated with chemotherapy performed significantly worse on tests of visuospatial ability than patients who had not had chemotherapy."

" treated with chemotherapy who have subsequent cognitive deficits should be referred to a neuropsychologist for evaluation and management of the deficits," Jim said. "Management usually involves developing an awareness of the situations in which their cognitive difficulties are likely to arise so that they can come up with strategies to compensate. Research shows that such strategies can make a big difference in daily life when cognitive difficulties do arise."

Explore further: Breast cancer survivors struggle with cognitive problems several years after treatment

More information: jco.ascopubs.org/content/early … 011.39.5640.full.pdf

Related Stories

Breast cancer survivors struggle with cognitive problems several years after treatment

December 12, 2011
A new analysis has found that breast cancer survivors may experience problems with certain mental abilities several years after treatment, regardless of whether they were treated with chemotherapy plus radiation or radiation ...

Researchers find cancer therapies affect cognitive functioning among breast cancer survivors

April 20, 2012
Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center and colleagues at the University of South Florida and University of Kentucky have found that breast cancer survivors who have had chemotherapy, radiation or both do not perform as well ...

First study on long-term cognitive effects of breast cancer CMF chemotherapy finds subtle impairment

February 27, 2012
Dutch investigators have reported that women who received CMF chemotherapy (a combination regimen including the drugs cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil) for breast cancer between 1976 and 1995 scored worse ...

Follow-up study finds prolonged fatigue for those who had chemotherapy for breast cancer

December 5, 2011
In a follow-up study, researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center and colleagues have found that patients who receive chemotherapy for breast cancer might experience prolonged fatigue years after their therapy. The new study, published ...

Asian breast cancer survivors suffer cognitive impairments associated with chemotherapy

March 15, 2012
A recent study by National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers revealed that Asian breast cancer patients who had received or were undergoing chemotherapy treatment showed symptoms of "chemobrain", in which they encounter ...

Recommended for you

A new weapon against bone metastasis? Team develops antibody to fight cancer

December 11, 2017
In the ongoing battle between cancer and modern medicine, some therapeutic agents, while effective, can bring undesirable or even dangerous side effects. "Chemo saves lives and improves survival, but it could work much better ...

Insights on how SHARPIN promotes cancer progression

December 11, 2017
Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery (SBP) and the Technion in Israel have found a new role for the SHARPIN protein. In addition to being one of three proteins in the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex ...

Glioblastoma survival mechanism reveals new therapeutic target

December 11, 2017
A Northwestern Medicine study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, has provided new insights into a mechanism of tumor survival in glioblastoma and demonstrated that inhibiting the process could enhance the effects of radiation ...

Liver cancer: Lipid synthesis promotes tumor formation

December 11, 2017
Lipids comprise an optimal energy source and an important cell component. Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and from the University of Geneva have now discovered that the protein mTOR stimulates the ...

Use of chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer declines, study says

December 11, 2017
A study of nearly 3,000 women with early stage breast cancer indicates a recent, significant decline in the use of chemotherapy despite the lack of any change in national treatment recommendations or guidelines, according ...

Researchers identify epigenetic orchestrator of pancreatic cancer cells

December 11, 2017
Genentech researchers have identified an enzyme that shifts pancreatic cancer cells to a more aggressive, drug-resistant state by epigenetically modifying the cells' chromatin. The study, which will be published December ...

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.