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 1a), sustained attention (RVP; Aim 1b) and new learning (PAL; Aim 1c) 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.
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