When most of us here cancer we probably immediately think of the cure or possible treatments that someone may receive to fight it. Few of us however would immediately wonder what side effects may be involved in the long-term after being treated and cured of cancer. The idea of cancer also seems as though it is completely associated with a loss of quality of life, but what if cancer treatments were also associated with this same drop in quality of life?
To observe the effects of a specific chemotherapy drug on breast cancer survivors compared to a different treatment or no chemotherapy at all, a study examined the cognitive function of 62 breast cancer survivors that had been off therapy for about two years. All women involved had been enrolled at Stanford University between 2008 and 2014. Twenty of the women had received anthracycline-based chemotherapy, the type of chemotherapy being specifically examined for its reputation in decreasing cognitive function post-therapy. Nineteen women had received nonanthracycline therapy and the final twenty-three women did not receive chemotherapy at all. Standardized neurological tests and resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging on the brain were completed. Results found that the women receiving anthracycline-based treatment had significantly lower verbal memory. Both groups of women that had received chemotherapy of some sort self-reported psychological distress and cognitive dysfunction. The journal article concluded that more research needs to be done on how the brain can be protected during chemotherapy treatments.
It is unnerving to think the few treatments we have for cancer may be causing more anguish to these women after they have been ‘treated’. Considering the women that did not receive any type of chemotherapy seemed to have no cognitive or psychological problems, should a more natural approach to cancer treatment be more heavily considered?
Reference: Kesler SR, Blayney DW. Neurotoxic effects of anthracycline- vs nonanthracycline-based chemotherapy on cognition in breast cancer survivors. Jama Oncol. 2016; 2(2): 185-192. http://oncology.jamanetwork.com.pitt.idm.oclc.org/article.aspx?articleid=2473507