Navigation Links
UCLA study finds scientific basis for cognitive complaints of breast cancer patients

For many years, breast cancer patients have reported experiencing difficulties with memory, concentration and other cognitive functions following cancer treatment. Whether this mental "fogginess" is psychosomatic or reflects underlying changes in brain function has been a bone of contention among scientists and physicians.

Now, a new study led by Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of cancer prevention and control research at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, demonstrates a significant correlation between poorer performance on neuropsychological tests and memory complaints in post-treatment, early-stage breast cancer patients particularly those who have undergone combined chemotherapy and radiation.

"The study is one of the first to show that such patient-reported cognitive difficulties often referred to as 'chemo brain' in those who have had chemotherapy can be associated with neuropsychological test performance," said Ganz, who is also a professor of health policy and management at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health and a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The study was published April 18 in the online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and will appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

Ganz and her colleagues looked at 189 breast cancer patients, who enrolled in the study about one month after completing their initial breast cancer treatments and before beginning endocrine hormone-replacement therapy (70 percent planned to undergo hormone therapy). Two-thirds of the women had had breast-conserving surgery, more than half had received chemotherapy, and three-quarters had undergone radiation therapy. The average age of study participants was 52.

Because cognitive complaints following cancer treatment have often been associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms, limiting confidence that "chemo brain" and similar difficulties reflect a cancer treatment toxicity, the researchers excluded women with serious depressive symptoms. They also took careful account of the cancer treatments used and whether or not menopause and hormonal changes could be influencing the cognitive complaints. A sample of age-matched healthy women who did not have breast cancer was used as a control group.

The researchers provided a self-reporting questionnaire to the women and found that those with breast cancer reported, on the whole, more severe complaints than normal; 23.3 percent of these patients had higher complaints about their memory, and 19 percent reported higher complaints about higher-level cognition (problem-solving, reasoning, etc.). Significantly, those breast cancer patients who reported more severe memory and higher-level cognition problems were more likely to have undergone both chemotherapy and radiation.

While earlier studies had not identified a consistent association between cognitive complaints and neuropsychological testing abnormalities, the UCLA research team found that even when patients reported subtle changes in their memory and thinking, neuropsychological testing showed detectable differences.

In particular, they discovered that poorer performance on the neuropsychological test was associated both with higher levels of cognitive complaints and with combined radiation-and-chemotherapy treatment, as well as with symptoms related to depression.

"In the past, many researchers said that we can't rely on patients' self-reported complaints or that they are just depressed, because previous studies could not find this association between neuropsychological testing and cognitive complaints," Ganz said. "In this study, we were able to look at specific components of the cognitive complaints and found they were associated with relevant neuropsychological function test abnormalities."

The findings are part of an ongoing study that seeks to examine the extent to which hormone therapy contributes to memory and thinking problems in breast cancer survivors, and this pre-hormone therapy assessment was able to separate the effects of initial treatments on these problems. Earlier post-treatment studies of breast cancer patients were difficult to interpret, as they included women already taking hormone therapy.

"As we provide additional reports on the follow-up testing in these women, we will track their recovery from treatment, as well as determine whether hormone therapy contributes to worsening complaints over time," Ganz said.


Contact: Shaun Mason
University of California - Los Angeles

Related medicine news :

1. Kessler Foundation participates in multi-site NIH study to develop caregiver TBI-CareQOL
2. AIG study shows hospital C-Suite and Risk Managers struggle with maintaining patient safety
3. HPV Vaccination Sends Genital Wart Cases Plummeting: Study
4. Swedish study suggests reduced risk of dementia
5. Study reveals austeritys harmful impact on health in Greece
6. Vanderbilt study finds lack of exercise not a factor in health disparities
7. People Happier When They Get More Sex Than Their Friends: Study
8. Nearly 30 percent of women fail to pick up new prescriptions for osteoporosis, study finds
9. Voices Against Brain Cancer Comments on New Study Claiming Fat Tissue Stem Cells can Fight Brain Cancer
10. Study finds newspapers have changed coverage of ice hockey concussions over last quarter-century
11. Nutrient Therapy Wont Help ICU Patients: Study
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... agency serving communities in the greater Dallas, Miami, and Raleigh regions, is organizing ... fighting to overcome a rare and deadly chromosome abnormality. , After struggling since ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... The American Board of Family Medicine's (ABFM) Board of Directors has selected ... Dr. James C. Puffer upon his retirement. Dr. Newton will serve in the position ... the end of 2018. Upon assuming the role of President and CEO on January ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... Lori R. Somekh, founder of the Law Office of Somekh & ... and special needs planning attorneys. “Membership in ElderCounsel helps our office remain up to ... with elder law attorneys nationwide,” said Somekh. , ElderCounsel was founded ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Ellevate Network, the leading network for ... for action towards gender equality at their inaugural Summit in New York City in ... reached a social audience of over 3 million. To watch the Mobilize Women video, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Coveros, a ... has been awarded a contract by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services ... accelerate the enterprise use of Agile methodologies in a consistent and high value ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... DIEGO , Oct. 12, 2017 AVACEN ... recognized the company with their  2017 New Product Innovation Award ... based on extensive primary and secondary medical device market research ... Medical, through its first-to-market OTC, drug-free pain relief product, the ... unique approach to treating fibromyalgia widespread pain. ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Texas , Oct. 11, 2017  True ... services, has amplified its effort during National Breast ... about hereditary cancer risks. ... of Clinical Oncology calculated that more than 10 ... have inherited mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 and have ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... Ill. , Oct. 5, 2017  In ... Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) released ... opioids – to be used as a first-line ... pain. Recognizing ... the AAOMS White Paper "Opioid Prescribing: Acute and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: