Purpose: To examine the impact of age and cognitive reserve on cognitive functioning in patients with breast cancer who are receiving adjuvant treatments. Patients and Methods: Patients with breast cancer exposed to chemotherapy (n = 60; mean age, 51.7 years) were evaluated with a battery of neuropsychological and psychological tests before treatment and at 1, 6, and 18 months after treatment. Patients not exposed to chemotherapy (n = 72; mean age, 56.6 years) and healthy controls (n = 45; mean age, 52.9 years) were assessed at matched intervals. Results: Mixed-effects modeling revealed significant effects for the Processing Speed and Verbal Ability domains. For Processing Speed, a three-way interaction among treatment group, age, and baseline cognitive reserve (P < .001) revealed that older patients with lower baseline cognitive reserve who were exposed to chemotherapy had lower performance on Processing Speed compared with patients not exposed to chemotherapy (P = .003) and controls (P < .001). A significant group by time interaction for Verbal Ability (P = .01) suggested that the healthy controls and no chemotherapy groups improved over time. The chemotherapy group failed to improve at 1 month after treatment but improved during the last two follow-up assessments. Exploratory analyses suggested a negative effect of tamoxifen on Processing Speed (P = .036) and Verbal Memory (P = .05) in the no-chemotherapy group. Conclusion: These data demonstrated that age and pretreatment cognitive reserve were related to posttreatment decline in Processing Speed in women exposed to chemotherapy and that chemotherapy had a short-term impact on Verbal Ability. Exploratory analysis of the impact of tamoxifen suggests that this pattern of results may be due to a combination of chemotherapy and tamoxifen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research