LOS ANGELES – UCLA researchers studying the side-effects of breast cancer treatments found an association between neuropsychological test performance and memory complaints in post-treatment, early stage breast cancer patients.
Patient-reported memory and cognitive problems, sometimes called ”chemo brain,” were also associated with chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment.
”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,” said Dr. Patricia Ganz, who led the study and is director of cancer prevention and control research at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. ”In this study, we were able to look at specific components of the cognitive complaints and found they were associated with relevant neuropsycholocial function test abnormalities.
A key goal of the study was to look at the cognitive issues absent the influence of hormone replacement therapy, which is common after undergoing treatment for breast cancer; so the cognitive assessments were done before hormone replacement therapy was begun.
The research, which will be published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was supported by the National Cancer Institute, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and funding from the National Institutes of Health via the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.