A large meta-analysis conducted by researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center has concluded that breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy are at risk for mild cognitive deficits after treatment. The meta-analysis, or analytic review of previously published studies, found that study participants on average had mild impairments in verbal abilities (such as difficulty choosing words) and visuospatial abilities (such as getting lost more easily). The study noted that cognitive functioning varies across survivors, with some reporting no impairments and others reporting more severe or pervasive deficits.
The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The research was supported in part by the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, through grant number K07 CA138499.
"The objective of our analysis was to clarify existing research on cognitive functioning in patients who had received standard dose chemotherapy for breast cancer at least six months previously," said study lead author Heather S.L. Jim, Ph.D., an assistant member at Moffitt whose research focuses on the psychosocial and behavioral aspects of cancer survivorship. "Earlier studies had reported conflicting evidence on the severity of cognitive deficits, especially over the long term."
Although this is an active area of research, an overall analysis of the studies had not been performed since 2006, explained the researchers.