Many breast cancer patients complain about cognitive dysfunction (CD) with mnestic and attentional deficits. These complaints persist even after completion of therapy in approximately one third of the patients and affects both social life and working capacity. The exact nature and genesis of CD in breast cancer patients is still not fully understood and risk factors are not yet described.
To determine CD and risk factors, we used the computer-based neuropsychological test NeuroCog-FX during a three weeks oncological rehabilitation in breast cancer patients. Eight subtests addressed attention, working memory, verbal and figural memory, and language. Test duration was
From February 2013 to December 2014 a total of 476 patients were recruited in 9 oncological rehabilitation centers in Germany. NeuroCog-FX was used to examine 439 patients. Median age was 50 years (range: 24-62 years); 93% of patients had early tumor stage (T0-T2) and 67% were node-negative. Sixty-one percent of the patients received chemotherapy while 84% of the subjects underwent radiotherapy. CD was found in 59% and a moderate to severe depression in 38% of the patients. The severity of depression was correlated with slower reaction times and reduced verbal memory performance. These two cognitive parameters were also associated with a reduced global health status and a reduced physical function score on the EORTC-QLQ30 questionnaire suggesting an impact of cognitive deficits on quality of life. Cognitive function was not associated with type of treatment or node status.
In this large and homogeneous cohort of breast cancer patients, CD has been shown in most of the subjects using a valid test method. CD was associated with depression and reduced quality of life. Neither tumor therapy nor other clinical parameters had a significant impact on development of CD.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.