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Published March 10, 2015
UCLA researchers have developed a program that could improve the day-to-day lives of women with breast cancer by addressing post-treatment cognitive difficulties, sometimes known as “chemo brain,” which can affect up to 35 percent of women after their treatments.
An estimated one-in-eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetimes, and following chemotherapy treatment, a mental fogginess can prevent them from being able to concentrate, stay organized and complete everyday activities, such as sticking to a schedule or planning a family gathering.
The study builds upon earlier research that found a statistically significant association between neuropsychological test performance and memory complaints among women with early-stage breast cancer following treatment.
“We invited the women to participate in a research study that assigned them to early or delayed treatment with a five-week, two-hour group training session, where a psychologist taught them strategies to help them with their memory and maintain their ability to pay attention to things,” says Patricia Ganz, MD ’73 (RES ’76, FEL ’78), director of prevention and control research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “These are activities we call executive function and planning, or the things all of us do in order to organize our day.”