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Measuring and treating Chemo Brain

Chemo Brain’ After Breast Can­cer Backed by Study (US News):

Breast can­cer patients treat­ed with chemother­a­py are at risk for mild men­tal deficits known col­lec­tive­ly as “chemo brain,” a new study finds. Researchers at the Mof­fitt Can­cer Cen­ter in Tam­pa, Fla., reviewed exist­ing research on brain func­tion (“cog­ni­tive” func­tion­ing) in breast can­cer patients who received stan­dard dos­es of chemother­a­py for at least six months…The analy­sis revealed that, on aver­age, these patients had mild impair­ments in ver­bal abil­i­ties (such as dif­fi­cul­ty choos­ing words) and visu­al-spa­tial abil­i­ties (such as get­ting lost more eas­i­ly).”

Now the good news: cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions to accel­er­ate recov­ery are becom­ing avail­able. See study: Advanced cog­ni­tive train­ing for breast can­cer sur­vivors: a ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al (Breast can­cer research and treat­ment)

  • Abstract: The pur­pose of this study was to eval­u­ate the pre­lim­i­nary effi­ca­cy and satisfaction/acceptability of train­ing in mem­o­ry or speed of pro­cess­ing ver­sus wait-list con­trol for improv­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion in breast can­cer sur­vivors… Pri­ma­ry out­comes were objec­tive neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests of mem­o­ry and speed of processing…The results show that domain-spe­cif­ic effects were seen for both inter­ven­tions: mem­o­ry train­ing improved mem­o­ry per­for­mance at 2‑month fol­low-up; speed of pro­cess­ing train­ing improved pro­cess­ing speed post-inter­ven­tion and 2‑month fol­low-up. Trans­fer effects to non-trained domains were seen for speed of pro­cess­ing train­ing with improved mem­o­ry post-inter­ven­tion and 2‑month fol­low-up. Both inter­ven­tions were asso­ci­at­ed with improve­ments in per­ceived cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing, symp­tom dis­tress, and qual­i­ty of life. Rat­ings of satisfaction/acceptability were high for both interventions.…Speed of pro­cess­ing train­ing may have broad­er ben­e­fits in this clin­i­cal pop­u­la­tion.

An open ques­tion is, how will this and sim­i­lar inter­ven­tions be inte­grat­ed in stan­dards of care, includ­ing reim­burse­ment? To Learn More:

Pic cour­tesy of Andrea Levy

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