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Chemo, Radiation Worsen Cognition in Breast CA Survivors

However, hormonal therapy does not predict changes in cognitive functioning over time

MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy plus radiation or radiation alone may experience poorer cognitive functioning over time, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in Cancer.

Kristin M. Phillips, Ph.D., from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., and colleagues investigated the influence of prior treatment on cognitive functioning in breast cancer survivors. The changes in cognitive functioning over time were compared for patients with stage 0 to II breast cancer who were treated with chemotherapy plus radiotherapy (CT group, 62 patients), or with radiotherapy alone (RT group, 67 patients), and for women with no cancer history (NC group, 184 women). Breast cancer survivors in both treatment arms underwent neuropsychological assessments at six and 36 months after treatment completion, and control group participants were assessed over a similar time interval.

The investigators found that a significant group × time effect existed in the processing speed domain that reflected a trend for improvement over time for the NC group, but not the RC or CT groups. A significant group effect was also seen for executive functioning, with better performance in the NC group than the CT and RT groups. Additional analyses did not yield an association for the administration of hormonal therapy with changes in cognitive functioning over time.

"Future research should seek to examine possible mechanisms that could explain the apparent prolonged impact of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy on cognitive functioning in breast cancer survivors," the authors write.

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