Many breast cancer patients report experiencing problems with memory and concentration, which is commonly referred to as “chemo brain.” For some time, scientists have questioned whether or not these reports were related to anxiety and depression or physiological changes to the brain due to cancer treatment. A new study performed by Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of cancer prevention and control research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, found evidence that “chemo brain” does exist and treatment may cause neurophysiological changes, which can affect cognition. This study tested patients and discovered that poorer cognitive performance was associated with higher levels of self-reported cognitive complaints and symptoms related to depression. Additionally, poorer performance on psychological testing was associated with patients who have had both chemotherapy and radiation. Ganz discussed that this study was different than those of the past because “In this study, we were able to look at specific components of the cognitive complaints and found they were associated with relevant neurophysiological function test abnormalities.” This study is part of an ongoing project to find the extent to which hormone therapy effects memory and thinking in breast cancer survivors.
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