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Chemotherapy Causes Short-Term Brain Structure Change

Cognitive impairments are a result of the treatment, not the cancer

TUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Chemotherapy appears to cause short-term changes in brain structure, which could account for cognitive impairments such as memory loss and difficulties problem-solving that are often reported by cancer patients, according to a report published online Nov. 27 in Cancer.

Masatoshi Inagaki, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Cancer Center Hospital East in Chiba, Japan, and colleagues conducted a study of breast cancer patients who received chemotherapy and those who did not, and compared them with healthy controls.

One year after treatment, subjects in the chemotherapy group had reduced volumes in areas of the brain sensitive to cognition, such as the prefrontal, parahippocampal and cingulate gyri, and precuneus regions, compared with those who did not receive chemotherapy and healthy controls. At the three-year mark, there were no differences in volume. Given that there were no volume differences at one and three years between cancer survivors not given chemotherapy and healthy controls, the cognitive deficits are associated with the chemotherapy, not the cancer itself, the report indicates.

"Results lead to the idea that adjuvant chemotherapy could have a temporary effect on brain structure. These findings can provide new insights for future research to improve the quality of life of cancer patients who receive adjuvant chemotherapy," the authors conclude.

Abstract
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