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Most patients recover from 'chemo-brain' by 5 years after stem cell transplant
Date:5/3/2011

SEATTLE Many patients who undergo bone marrow or blood stem cell transplantation to treat blood cancers or a "pre-leukemic" condition called myelodysplasia experience a decline in mental and fine motor skills due to the toll of their disease and its treatment.

A new study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, published in the May 2, 2011 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that overall, these effects are largely temporary and that most patients can expect a return to normal motor and memory function within five years. However, the study also found that deficits in fine motor skills and verbal memory remained for a significant percentage of patients and warrant more attention by health care providers.

It has been widely documented that powerful chemotherapy drugs that leukemia and lymphoma patients receive prior to hematopoietic transplantation (HCT) as well as medicines to combat graft-versus-host disease can impact motor and memory skills. The purpose of the new study, led by Karen Syrjala, Ph.D., director of Biobehavioral Sciences at the Hutchinson Center, was to determine whether patients recover from these neurocognitive deficits within five years of transplant.

For the study, Syrjala and colleagues identified 92 patients who had received an allogeneic (cells from a donor other than themselves) bone marrow or stem cell transplant for chronic myeloid leukemia, acute leukemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome, an umbrella term for several "pre-cancerous" diseases in which the bone marrow does not function normally.

For comparison purposes, the patients were asked to nominate a case-matched control, such as a sibling or friend of the same gender and similar age who had neither received a transplant nor were in active cancer treatment. The transplant patients and control subjects were then given a battery of tests all by the same test giver to assess their memory a
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Contact: Dean Forbes
dforbes@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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