Breast cancer patients 'could suffer mental difficulties years after treatment'

12 December 2011

Patients who have undergone breast cancer treatment suffer with cognitive problems years after the course of therapies, according to new research.

A study by Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa scientists found that breast cancer survivors may experience problems with mental capabilities years after treatment is completed.

Published in the online version of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the research looked at different types of cancer and their possible effects on mental abilities such as memory.

Paul Jacobsen, leader of the study, and his colleagues examined 62 breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy plus radiation, 67 patients treated with radiation only, and 184 women with no history of cancer. They found through neuropsychological tests taken after six months and again 36 months later that chemotherapy can cause cognitive problems in breast cancer survivors that persist for three years.

Dr Jacobsen said: "Our findings also provide a more complete picture of the impact of cancer treatment on mental abilities than studies that did not follow patients as long."

The most common forms of treatment for breast cancer are chemotherapy, radiotherapy and mastectomy surgery.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Jacobsen, Paul, et al.. "Cognitive functioning after cancer treatment: A three-year longitudinal comparison of breast cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy or radiation and non-cancer controls", CANCER; December 12th 2011.

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