“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:
- Research on ‘Chemo Brain’: MRI Shows Brain Changes After Chemotherapy
- Why computerized neuropsychological tests will become routine — chemo brain example
Pic courtesy of Andrea Levy