Impact of breast cancer on prospective memory functioning assessed by virtual reality and influence of sleep quality and hormonal therapy: PROSOM-K study

BMC Cancer. 2018 Sep 3;18(1):866. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4762-2.


Background: Breast cancer (BC) is the most frequent cancer in women with more than 70% of BC patients being treated with hormonal therapy (HT). Among these patients, some report difficulties in remembering what they are supposed to do at the right moment, referring to prospective memory (PM). PM is essential for autonomy and medical adherence of patients, and requires an ecological assessment. Virtual reality, that recreates naturalistic environment, seems to be a promising method to evaluate PM. Several BC patients also report sleep disturbances. Given the role of sleep on memory consolidation, it is imperative to explore the influence of sleep quality on PM in BC patients treated with HT. The purpose of PROSOM-K study is to assess PM functioning using virtual reality and sleep quality in BC treated or not with HT.

Methods: PROSOM-K is a prospective study including post-menopausal BC patients ≤70 years old treated with radiotherapy (n = 25) or with radiotherapy and HT (n = 25), and healthy post-menopausal women (n = 25) matched for age and education. PM will be assessed using a virtual reality based task. Other cognitive functions and psychosocial factors will be assessed with validated questionnaires and neuropsychological tests. The study is divided in 3 sessions: a session of familiarisation with the virtual environment and the PM task: a day-time session during which participants learn intentions during the morning and recall them in the evening; and a night-time session during which participants learn intentions in the evening and recall them the following morning. Women will be monitored by wrist actigraphy; during the night-time session, objective sleep quality and quantity will be measured by polysomnography.

Discussion: This is a novel study aiming to assess PM using virtual reality, coupled with the evaluation of other cognitive functions. Polysomnographic study of sleep will provide further information about architectural sleep disturbances in BC. Association between sleep architecture parameters and PM mechanism in BC women treated with HT will be described in detail. We expect our results will provide knowledge for patients and clinicians and further help to improve patient care and cognitive therapy.

Trial registration: NCT03420105 , registered: January 10, 2018.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Hormonal therapy; Prospective memory; Sleep quality; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / adverse effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Estazolam / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / chemically induced
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*
  • Virtual Reality


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Estazolam

Associated data