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research: Stanford researchers look at breast cancer’s brain fog aka chemo brain

Posted Nov 15 2011 1:40am

Researchers at Stanford University conducted a study to observe differences in brain function and behavior between women with breast cancer and healthy women. The study included three groups: 25 subjects with breast cancer and history of chemotherapy, 19 subjects with breast cancer and no history of breast cancer and 18 control subjects; all subjects matched for demographic variables. Subjects who had a history of treatment with chemotherapy were five years out from treatment.

Measurements from fMRI and the Wisconsin card sorting test indicated deficits in the area of the brain controlling executive function for the two groups with breast cancer, whether having had a history of chemotherapy or not.

This is not the first study to indicate that the phenomenon of chemo brain or brain fog may be related more to breast cancer than to the chemotherapy itself as previously thought. Whatever term we use, it appears that further studies need to review this not-so-subtle effect of breast cancer.

Shelli R. Kesler, PhD; Jamie S. Kent, MA; Ruth O’Hara, PhD. Prefrontal cortex and executive function impairments in primary breast cancer. In Arch Neurol 2011; 68: 1447-1453 .

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© 2004–2011 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

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