Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
College of Arts and Science Honors, Honors College
Julie Dumas, Ph.D.
Alison Brody, Ph.D.
Laura Hill, Ph.D.
Breast cancer, cancer treatment, brain, women, aging.
Breast cancer is a common form of cancer that is increasing in its diagnosis among women in the last few decades. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy are approved forms of treatment for breast cancer that have been shown to cause improvements in long term cancer survival (eg. Hutchinson et al. 2012). However, many cancer survivors report adverse effects of the cancer treatment on their memory and thinking. The research literature shows that despite the improving survival rate, cancer and cancer treatment have detrimental effects on survivors’ brain function. For instance, studies have shown that cancer treatment can cause changes attentional processing, and executive functioning. On the other hand, normal aging also has an adverse effect on brain function. In this study, I examined how age and time since cancer treatment influenced the function and structure of the brain. The main goal of this study was to examine the short and long term effects of cancer treatment on brain structure and function in older women. Twelve women completed one study day. Two groups of cancer survivors who were on average 71.75 years old were examined. One group of women was about two years since the end of their cancer treatment. The other group of women was around 10 years since the end of their cancer treatment. Participants were asked to complete memory tests, attention tests, mood questionnaires, and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) session. Results showed greater brain activation in the 10 year survivor group during the working memory task as measured by fMRI. There was also a significant difference in the psychiatric assessment (Older Adult Self Report OASR) between the groups. The 10 year survivor group scored higher on the OASR which indicated having more critical problems such as irritability. Further research with a similar protocol and a larger sample is needed to fully understand the interaction of age and cancer treatment on the brain.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Alshaabi, Yara, "Interaction of Age and Cancer Treatment on Brain Function and Structure in Breast Cancer Survivors" (2019). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 295.