Breast Cancer Survivors Face Cognitive Problems
December 12, 2011

Breast Cancer Survivors Face Cognitive Problems

According to a new study, breast cancer survivors may experience problems with certain mental abilities several years after treatment.

The new study indicates that there may be common and treatment-specific ways that cancer therapies negatively affect cancer survivors' mental abilities.

Paul Jacobsen, PhD, of the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, and his colleagues examined 62 breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy plus radiation, 67 patients treated with radiation only, and 184 women with no history of cancer.

They found that chemotherapy can cause cognitive problems in breast cancer survivors, and these problems can persist for three years after they finish treatment.

The team also found that breast cancer survivors who had been treated with radiation often experienced problems similar to those in breast cancer survivors treated with both chemotherapy and radiation.

The researchers did not find that hormonal therapy caused cognitive difficulties.

"These findings suggest that the problems some breast cancer survivors have with their mental abilities are not due just to the administration of chemotherapy," Jacobsen said in a press release.

"Our findings also provide a more complete picture of the impact of cancer treatment on mental abilities than studies that did not follow patients as long or look at mental abilities in breast cancer survivors who had not been treated with chemotherapy."

The research was published online in the peer-reviewed journal CANCER.


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