UCLA researchers find neuropsychological test performance and “chemo brain” side effects of cancer treatments

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.

3 Responses to "UCLA researchers find neuropsychological test performance and “chemo brain” side effects of cancer treatments"

  1. Liz   April 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Ask my husband, he.ll tell you the number of times he.s had to say,’you used to know, or remember that’! Brain fog quite real no matter what The scientists say! Now that the treatment is 6 months ago that 6 months has disappeared! Only occasionally memory triggered by someone else having the same treatment and quite happy to leave that 6 months and fog behind. Quite annoying when you find things disappeared into the fog and don.t want to be remembered! Hooray for The researchers who have linked it as otherwise the world seems to think we.re all batty! Liz from Oz

  2. Parent   April 23, 2013 at 2:38 am

    I can sympathize with the side effects of the breast cancer patient. My child had chemo for over two years and brain radiation. The long-term side effects from cancer treatment for children are equally sad. Studies show that in children they worsen with each year of their lives. This involves cognitive issues, difficulty processing complex concepts, difficulty with critical thinking skills and an inability to handle their emotions. The studies are devastating to my child (who is now in the 20’s and feels the impact daily). I am not surprised to see the cognitive issues with breast cancer patients, but I still saddened and disappointed to see the results of UCLA’s studies. One of the many chemotherapy agents my child received was doxorubicin, which is the drug of choice for breast cancer patients. Most of the breast cancer patients call it the "red devil" and for very good reason. I have a mother and sister who also had breast cancer and both have memory problems.

  3. Lee   April 25, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Gee, there’s a shocker!

    When scientists zap you with chemo or what-have-you, they not only fry the cancer but other parts of your body. Who’d a thunk it?!

    Bravo know-it-all scientists, bravo!


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