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Breast cancer treatment hits abilities

[Posted: Mon 12/12/2011 by Deborah Condon]

Women who survive breast cancer may experience problems with certain cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention and problem solving, years after their treatment has finished, the results of a new study indicate.

Furthermore, these problems appear to occur irrespective of the type of treatment they received.

According to US researchers, previous studies have suggested that chemotherapy can lead to problems with concentration and memory in those who survive breast cancer. They decided to investigate the effects of different types of breast cancer treatment on women's mental abilities.

They looked at 184 women with no history of the disease, 67 women who had been treated for breast cancer with radiation only and 62 women who had been treated with both radiation and chemotherapy.

The study found that chemotherapy can indeed cause cognitive problems in breast cancer survivors and these problems can be found up to three years after treatment has ended.

However, they also found that survivors who had only been treated with radiation often experienced similar cognitive problems to survivors who had been treated with both radiation and chemotherapy.

"These findings suggest that the problems some breast cancer survivors have with their mental abilities are not due just to the administration of chemotherapy," the team from Tampa in Florida said.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Cancer.


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