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Posted by on Apr 23, 2019 in Breast cancer | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study investigated whether endocrine therapy affects memory in older women with breast cancer. This study concluded that endocrine therapy had a negative effect on these patients' memory, especially on verbal memory (memory related to words).

Some background

Some types of breast cancer can be treated using endocrine therapy (ET). This involves targeting hormone receptors on cancer cells with certain drugs. This can be done if the cancer cells are positive for the estrogen receptor or the progesterone receptor. These cells are also called hormone receptor-positive (HR+) cancer cells. About 75% of breast cancers are HR+.

Previous studies suggest that ET may affect brain function in women. ET has been shown to negatively affect verbal memory. Older women are at a higher risk of cognitive decline. The impact of ET on the brain function of older women with breast cancer remains under investigation.

Methods & findings

This study involved 42 women with HR+ breast cancer.  All patients received brain function tests before starting treatment. None of the patients had dementia. All patients were on ET for 1 year. Several cognitive tests were given to determine whether brain function changed due to treatment. These include tests on verbal memory, visual memory, and how fast information could be processed.

Verbal memory significantly declined in all patients after 1 year of treatment. This was the only area in which the change was significant. The authors suggest that older women may be more vulnerable to cognitive decline from ET compared to younger women.

The bottom line

This study concluded that ET negatively impacted verbal memory in women over age 60 with breast cancer. The authors suggest that the effects of long-term ET warrant further investigation.

The fine print

This was a very small study with a short follow-up period. Typically, ET can last for 5 to 10 years, but patients in this study only had 1 year of treatment. More studies with longer follow-up are needed to confirm these results.

What’s next?

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the potential effects of endocrine therapy.

Published By :

Supportive care in cancer: official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer

Date :

Jan 04, 2019

Original Title :

Cognitive effects of adjuvant endocrine therapy in older women treated for early-stage breast cancer: a 1-year longitudinal study.

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