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Keywords:

  • cognition;
  • chemotherapy;
  • stage;
  • breast carcinoma

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Evidence suggests that women diagnosed with early-stage breast carcinoma may experience cognitive problems as a consequence of adjuvant chemotherapy treatment. The present study was conducted to examine whether there are differences in cognitive performance and cognitive complaints between women treated with and without chemotherapy for TNM Stage 0 to II breast carcinoma.

METHODS

As part of a larger study on quality of life, women were recruited with newly diagnosed Stage 0 to II breast carcinoma scheduled to be treated with chemotherapy plus radiotherapy (n = 60) or radiotherapy only (n = 83). Six months after the completion of treatment, participants were administered a standard neuropsychologic battery to assess cognitive performance and a self-report measure to assess perceived cognitive problems.

RESULTS

There were no statistically significant differences between women who received chemotherapy and those who did not with regard to their average performance on tests of episodic memory, attention, complex cognition, motor performance, or language. Likewise, there were no significant differences between the treatment groups in the prevalence of impairment in each of these cognitive domains. Women who underwent chemotherapy also did not report significantly more problems with cognitive functioning than women treated without chemotherapy.

CONCLUSIONS

The findings failed to confirm previous reports suggesting adjuvant chemotherapy is associated with problems in cognitive functioning among women who receive treatment for Stage 0 to II breast carcinoma. Future research should use prospective longitudinal research designs incorporating appropriate comparison groups to further explore this issue. Cancer 2005. © 2005 American Cancer Society.