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Breast Cancer Chemotherapy May Cause Cognitive Decline

One high-dose regimen adversely affects cognition in some women

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Women with breast cancer who are treated with a high-dose chemotherapy regimen may experience cognitive decline as a result of the treatment, according to a study published in the Dec. 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Sanne B. Schagen, Ph.D., of the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted neuropsychologic testing of 28 women who received high-dose chemotherapy using cyclophosphamide, thiotepa and carboplatin (CTC); 39 women who received standard-dose chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (FEC); 57 women with stage-1 breast cancer who had not been treated with chemotherapy; and 60 healthy controls.

The tests were conducted before treatment and six months after treatment, a 12-month interval, with control subjects re-tested after a six-month interval. At the first assessment there were no differences between the four groups, but by the second assessment 25 percent of the CTC group had experienced cognitive decline, versus 6.7 percent for the control group. This difference was not observed in the FEC or no-treatment group.

"More patients treated with high-dose CTC chemotherapy than patients treated with standard-dose FEC chemotherapy showed a decline in cognitive performance compared with healthy control subjects," the authors conclude.

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