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Keywords:

  • breast cancer;
  • adjuvant chemotherapy;
  • cognitive function;
  • oncology;
  • attention network test

Abstract

Introduction

Complaints about attention disorders are common among breast cancer survivors who have undergone chemotherapy treatment. However, it is not known whether these complaints indicate a global attention deficit or the selective impairment of attention networks.

Objective

This study sought to investigate the attentional abilities of breast cancer patients after chemotherapy treatment using the attention network test (ANT).

Methods

The participants included breast cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy (CT, N = 58), patients who had not undergone chemotherapy (non-CT, N = 53), and matched healthy controls (HC, N = 55). All participants completed the ANT, which provides measures of three independent attention networks (alerting, orienting, and executive control) and neuropsychological background tests.

Results

Our results indicated that the chemotherapy-treated breast cancer patients had significant deficits in the alerting and executive control networks but not in the orienting network. The CT group scored significantly lower in several cognitive tasks, including attention, memory, and information processing tasks, relative to the other two groups. Additionally, significant correlations were found between information processing and the efficiency of the executive control network within the CT group.

Conclusions

These results suggest that the three attention networks were selectively impaired following chemotherapy treatment, which affected different brain areas in the breast cancer survivors. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.