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First study on long-term cognitive effects of breast cancer chemotherapy finds subtle impairment among women who received CMF regimen
Date:2/27/2012

factors such as age, education, and depression score, the investigators found that women who had CMF chemotherapy were more likely than the women without cancer in the control group to have lower scores on test of immediate and delayed verbal memory (the ability to recall words), information processing speed, and psychomotor speed (coordination of thinking and hand movement, such as putting pegs in a board). The magnitude of the effects was comparable to approximately six years of age-related decline in cognitive function. The women who had received chemotherapy also had more memory complaints than the control women, but these complaints were not related to objective memory functioning.

Dr. Schagen noted that people with cognitive deficits can learn coping strategies to improve their daily life functioning, such as becoming more systematic in their daily routines, and preparing effectively for events such as travel or business meetings.

Researchers will continue to study the effects of chemotherapy on the brain and hope to determine which patients are most susceptible to cognitive problems.

"We don't know why some people are more vulnerable than others. We need more insights into the biological and psychological predictors of risk," said Dr. Schagen.

She added that she and co-investigator Dr. Breteler hope to compare cognitive function between breast cancer survivors who had chemotherapy and cancer survivors who did not have chemotherapy, to control for a possible influence of the cancer itself on cognitive functioning.

The Journal of Clinical Oncology is the tri-monthly peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world's leading professional society representing physicians who treat people with cancer.

ASCO Perspective: Sylvia Adams, MD, ASCO Cancer Communications Committee member and breast cancer expert

"As the number of long-term breast cancer survivors c
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Contact: Nicole Fernandes
nicole.fernandes@asco.org
571-483-1354
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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