Cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is a troublesome side effect reducing overall daily functioning for many breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In Dr. Janelsins? NCI-funded nationwide, prospective cohort study, 45% of breast cancer patients report clinically significant post-chemotherapy (URCC10055; N=945); this is one of the largest studies of CRCI to date and the only one we are aware of in community oncology clinics. CRCI may also persist long-term; however, large studies incorporating pre-chemotherapy time-points are needed to clearly elucidate long-term trajectories of CRCI. In URCC10055, Dr. Janelsins and colleagues used two tests that address specific cognitive functions: 1) the Delayed Match to Sample (DMS) task?a visual working memory test with sensitivity to the prefrontal cortex dysfunction and with analogous features to the delayed spatial alternation test used in her CRCI mouse model, and 2) the Rapid Visual Processing Test (RVP)?a sustained attention test with sensitivity to parietal and frontal lobe dysfunction. With both the DMS and RVP tests, there was a significant decline in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy from pre- to 6 months post-chemotherapy compared to age-matched controls assessed at the same times (N=943). By comparison, the standard neuropsychological tests did not reveal significant differences at this time-point suggesting they may lack sensitivity for assessing long-term decline. We also present preliminary data that the inflammatory pathways may be related to lower DMS scores. Based on our preclinical data, and literature of others, we will also add a new learning test to precisely address hippocampal function, the Paired Associated Learning (PAL) test.
Our aims are to conduct a comprehensive assessment of long-term CRCI in specific cognitive functions of visual working memory (DMS; primary aim;
Aim 1 a), sustained attention (RVP;
Aim 1 b) and new learning (PAL;
Aim 1 c) at 7 and 9 years post-chemotherapy in breast cancer patients compared to controls, assessing specific factors leading to cognitive decline, and to assess the impact of long-term CRCI with these measures on daily function (Aim 2), inflammation (Aim 3), and relationship to other cognitive measures (standard neuropsychological, self-report;
Aim 4). In order to address these innovative aims, we will leverage URCC10055 to collect new 7- and 9-year data on 450 breast cancer patients (survivors) and 300 controls. These time-points coincide with gaps in the literature in evaluating longitudinal, long-term CRCI and these are the time-points available during the funding period. In order to evaluate long-term longitudinal CRCI, we will also leverage the existing URCC10055 data (pre-chemotherapy, post-chemotherapy, and 6 months follow-up). This proposal will fill critical gaps in the field in our understanding of longitudinal long-term effects of CRCI from prior to chemotherapy, biologic processes involved, and impact on overall daily functioning. These cognitive measures could provide practical yet CRCI- specific screening methods in busy oncology clinics and inform future mechanistic and CRCI intervention trials.

Public Health Relevance

The public health impact of cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is substantial; up to 80% of breast cancer patients exhibit CRCI during chemotherapy which can be debilitating. Some patients (survivors) of breast cancer also experience persistent long-term CRCI but long-term CRCI trajectories have been understudied. This proposal will add to the field by characterizing long-term CRCI with novel cognitive neuroscience-based measures and incorporating pre-chemotherapy and post-chemotherapy time-points. Lastly, we will assess the impact of CRCI on function and the role of inflammation in long-term CRCI by leveraging a large, nationwide, prospective study conducted in NCI-funded community oncology network.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Horowitz, Todd S
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University of Rochester
School of Medicine & Dentistry
United States
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