Cognitive functioning in breast cancer survivors: A controlled comparison


  • This article is a U.S. government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.



The current study was performed to determine whether neuropsychologic functioning differs in breast cancer survivors 6 months after the completion of adjuvant treatment compared with women without cancer.


Participants were 187 women who were diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ or stage I or stage II breast cancer and 187 age-matched and geographically matched women without cancer. Of the survivors, 97 had been treated after surgery with chemotherapy only or chemotherapy plus radiotherapy and 90 had been treated after surgery with radiotherapy only (grading determined according to the American Joint Committee on Cancer grading system).


Small but statistically significant differences in cognitive functioning and cognitive impairment were observed in those survivors who were treated with chemotherapy and their matched controls, as well as in survivors treated with radiotherapy only and their matched controls. No group differences were observed with regard to cognitive symptoms.


Data from the current study suggest that cognitive deficits are subtle and likely the result of the general effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment rather than systemic treatment. Cancer 2009. Published 2009 by the American Cancer Society.