Advanced Cognitive Training for Breast Cancer Survivors

Breast cancer survivors often report poor memory and feelings of mental slowness. These perceived cognitive declines can negatively affect their quality of life and self-esteem.

Researchers wanted to evaluate the efficacy of memory and processing training to improve cognitive functions in breast cancer survivors. Similar training had shown memory improvement and processing speed in people 65 years and older without cancer.

All participants received a baseline cognition assessment. Memory training subjects were randomly chosen for the intervention, which included 10 one-hour training sessions that involved learning and practicing strategies to remember word lists and text. Speed-of-processing training participants used a commercially available computer-based program to learn to complete progressively more difficult information-processing tasks. Wait-group participants were told they would get training materials at the end of their study participation period.

The memory training group had better immediate memory than the control group (39% versus18%) and memory performance at two-month follow-up (42% versus 11%). The intervention group improved their speed of processing compared to the control group, (68% versus 43%) and their memory post intervention (41% versus 10%) and at two-month follow-up (30% versus 18%).

Both intervention groups showed positive effects in the areas of perceived cognitive function, symptom distress, and quality of life.