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Memory loss after chemotherapy is one of the most commonly reported post-treatment symptoms by patients with cancer. This deterioration in cognitive function, commonly referred to as chemobrain or chemofog, was largely unacknowledged by the medical community until in recent years. An exploratory pilot study was undertaken in Tuanku Jaafar Hospital, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. The aim in the study was to assess the effect of chemotherapy on cognitive function of patients with breast and colon cancers.
Ten patients with cancer (6 patients with breast cancer patients and 4 with colorectal cancer) who were receiving adjuvant chemotherapy (anthracycline and/or 5-fluorouracil) were assessed using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) before the first cycle of chemotherapy and again after the third cycle.
There were mean reductions of 6.1% in MoCA and 5.3% in MMSE; no difference was noted between patients with breast and those with colorectal cancer.
The reductions in both the tests suggest that chemotherapy does have an impact on cognitive function, although it must be noted that the sample size was small. Based on the results of this exploratory pilot study, we aim to do a further larger scale, longer study to assess cognitive function after chemotherapy.
The authors declared no conflicts of interest.
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© 2012 Published by Elsevier Inc.