Prior chemo linked to cognitive decline in women

Study was carried out in newly diagnosed over 60-year-olds with non-metastatic breast cancer

Older women who have had chemotherapy for breast cancer are at increased risk of cognitive decline compared with their peers, but genetics plays an important role, a US study shows.

In the Thinking and Living with Cancer study, nearly 350 women over 60 with newly diagnosed non-metastatic breast cancer were matched one-to-one with healthy controls.

Cognitive function was tested at baseline and at one- and two-year follow-up.

While healthy controls and breast cancer survivors who had not had chemotherapy improved on scores for attention, processing speed and executive function over time – presumably because they got better at the test – women who had undergone chemotherapy had significantly worse scores at the two-year follow-up.

The effect was most marked in women who were positive for the e4 variant of the ApoE allele, known to be linked with Alzheimer’s disease, the authors