Cognitive function after systemic therapy for breast cancer

Oncology (Williston Park). 2001 May;15(5):613-8; discussion 618, 621-4.


An underinvestigated area of breast cancer survivorship involves the possible impairment of cognitive function following adjuvant chemohormonal therapy. Numerous reports of disturbing and disruptive changes in short- and long-term memory, attention span, concentration, and language skills have been made by breast cancer patients who have received chemotherapy. This article reviews the four published studies that have documented cognitive dysfunction following adjuvant chemohormonal therapies commonly used in breast cancer. The studies describe a subset of approximately one-third of participants who experienced long-term cognitive impairment. Patient- and treatment-related factors that may influence cognitive function are outlined. The impact of these cognitive impairments on the individual breast cancer survivor's quality of life is discussed, as is the potential overall impact of this research on future adjuvant therapy. The need for a prospective longitudinal study documenting the neuropsychological sequelae of adjuvant chemohormonal therapy is emphasized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Canada
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Women's Health


  • Estrogens