Cognitive changes include problems with memory, concentration and how a person can think. Your doctor might call this cancer related cognitive impairment. It is also known as chemo brain or chemo fog.
Research into diagnosing and treating cognitive changes caused by cancer or its treatment is ongoing.
Research and clinical trials
All cancer treatments must be fully researched before they can be used for everyone. This is so we can be sure that:
- they work
- they work better than the treatments already available
- they are safe
Research into diagnosing cognitive changes
In the CICARO study, researchers look at cognitive changes in people with ovarian and breast cancer. The researchers want to measure cognitive function before and after chemotherapy with paclitaxel. They are using neuropsychological tests in this research. They will compare the results of the test with those of people with:
- breast cancer, who did not have chemotherapy treatment
In another study, researchers look at brain changes. This is in people undergoing chemotherapy for bowel (colon or rectal) cancer. The researchers will use the information to identify helpful tests. They will use the tests to diagnose people at risk of developing difficulties with thinking and memory.
Researchers are also looking at using advanced MRI scans to see changes that happen to the brain. This is in older people with breast cancer and who are having chemotherapy. They want to learn more about the brain changes that happen with severe side effects of chemotherapy.
In the TLC study, researchers look at older people with breast cancer having
In one study, researchers look at cognitive function in men with prostate cancer. They are interested in men having treatment with hormone therapies. These are drugs such as abiraterone acetate and enzalutamide. The researchers are using
The researchers are also looking for
Radiotherapy to treat
Researchers look at cognitive changes in people with brain metastases in another study. Doctors treat brain metastases with
- before treatment
- at 2 years after treatment
Research into treating cognitive changes
In one study, researchers look at testing a memory training program. It is for people with breast cancer who have problems with memory. This is after receiving chemotherapy. The researchers want to see if people taking part can improve their memory and attention problems.
They are using either one of two versions of the training program. One version is called Cogmed Working Memory Training. The other program has the same exercises but is less difficult.
The CLARITY study is a
- cognitive function
- heart and lung fitness
Cognitive changes caused by cancer can interfere with normal life and worsen quality of life. Older people having
- older people
- survivors of other cancers
In the PROACTIVE study, researchers look at increasing physical activity. They want to know if it can improve cognitive function. They are looking at this in the above group of people. The researchers want to adapt and test a physical activity intervention already based on evidence.
Diet and cognitive training
In this research study, researchers look at people who had blood cancer. They want to see whether they can use a cognitive intervention program. One group of people in the trial will use:
- a ketogenic diet meal replacement
- online cognitive training
The researchers are comparing this group with another group that doesn't use it. They also want to know how long the effects of the program last.
Online training programs
In the Telehealth and Memory Study (TAMS), researchers look at how well Memory and Attention Adaptation Training (MAAT) works. MAAT is a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It treats cognitive changes caused by chemotherapy. It is for people who have had breast cancer.
Researchers look at cognitive interventions in the BrainHealth in Breast Cancer Survivors study. This is in people who have noticed changes in their thinking since their treatment. The researchers want to know:
- how well they work
- whether it improves brain health and performance
International Cognition and Cancer Task Force (ICCTF)
In 2006 a group of specialists and patients set up the International Cognition and Cancer Task Force (ICCTF). The group aims to guide future research. They also give information to patients and doctors. This is on how to manage the symptoms of cognitive impairment.
Its members carry out local, national and international research. They have working groups looking at different areas of research. These include:
- the best way to identify and assess those people who have (or who are at risk of) cognitive impairment
- research possible treatments that can then be tested in clinical trials