Professor Ian Olver (SA), Associate Professor Guy Toner (Vic), Professor Villis Marshall (SA), Associate Professor Michael Boyer (NSW) & Associate Professor Paul Maruff (Vic)
Outcomes of testing with cancer patients suggest chemotherapy may
lead to cognitive impairment such as learning, memory, and attention
deficits. However, several limitations appear evident in the research
First, studies of chemotherapy and cognitive
impairment have mainly focused on patients with breast cancer, limiting
the generalisability of results beyond this group. Second, most studies
have not taken pre-chemotherapy baseline measurements for comparison or
studied patients over time, limiting knowledge about long-term effects.
Third, other possible factors that may affect cognitive function have
not been taken into account including the type of chemotherapy
treatment, self-perceived cognitive changes, and psychological factors
known to affect cognitive function including depression, anxiety, and
fatigue.Finally, inappropriate control groups or no control groups have been used for comparison.
purpose of the current study is to implement a national long-term study
of cognitive impairment with patients undergoing chemotherapy, other
than breast cancer patients, taking into account a range of factors.
Patients diagnosed with testicular cancer appear especially appropriate
as most patients undergo surgery, yet only some continue on with
The patients who do not receive chemotherapy
therefore provide an appropriate control group for comparison. Many
tests used to assess cognitive function are not suitable for ongoing
assessment because of the possibility of learning the test over time.
Importantly, valid and reliable computerised assessments of cognitive
function (CogHealth) taking as little as 10 minutes are now available
to allow repeated measurements over time without burdening patients
attempting to deal with chronic illness. Research on the extent of
cognitive impairment after chemotherapy has implications for the way
future trials are investigated, especially with cancer survivors living
longer due to advances in medical care.