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National Cancer Institute

Cognitive Effects of Cancer and Cancer Treatment

Summary

Cognitive dysfunction has been demonstrated in cancer patients before, during, and following treatment. It is believed that one-third of patients undergoing chemotherapy experience some degree of cognitive dysfunction during or following treatment, and these deficits can have a significant impact on social and occupational functioning, and overall quality of life. These cognitive difficulties may involve multiple cognitive domains, including working memory, executive function, and processing speed.

Specific Aims

  • Understand the mechanisms that underlie cognitive dysfunction associated with cancer and its treatment (e.g., surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy)
  • Identify risk factors for cognitive dysfunction associated with cancer and its treatment
  • Examine the structural and functional changes in the brain associated with cognitive dysfunction
  • Develop new methods to assess the typically subtle cognitive changes experienced by cancer patients in everyday life
  • Distinguish the cognitive changes experienced by cancer patients from those of normal aging and pre-dementia

Contact

Wendy Nelson, Ph.D.
Program Director
nelsonw@mail.nih.gov

Back to Key Initiative: Cognitive Changes Related to Cancer and Cancer Treatments