Blog | Thursday, September 20, 2012

QD: News Every Day--'Chemo-brain' exists after recovery from breast cancer


Small cognitive deficits exist in verbal ability and visual-spatial abilities in breast cancer patients who received chemotherapy, a meta-analysis found.

Seventeen studies on 807 patients previously treated with standard-dose chemotherapy for breast cancer were reviewed to seek out associations in attention, executive functioning, information processing, motor speed, verbal ability, verbal memory, visual memory, and visual-spatial ability.

Results appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers noted deficits in cognitive functioning compared to control patients or prechemotherapy baseline verbal ability (g=−0.19; P less than .01) and visual-spatial ability (g=−0.27; P less than 0.01).

This information can be used to inform interventions to educate patients with breast cancer regarding the long-term impact of chemotherapy on cognitive functioning, authors noted. Patients should be referred to a neuropsychologist for evaluation and management, one of the study authors noted in a press release. Developing an awareness of the situations in which cognitive impairment plays a role help patients compensate, and "can make a big difference in daily life when cognitive difficulties do arise."