Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey aids in clinical trial examining effects of ‘chemo brain’ in breast cancer patients
When receiving treatment for breast cancer, patients sometimes experience side effects that can make it harder for them to concentrate, remember things or do tasks requiring rapid or precise hand movements. Referred to as “chemo brain,” these changes can affect a patient’s quality of life. The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by the Kessler Foundation in cooperation with the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, will look at the side effects of these medicines on breast cancer patients by looking at changes that occur inside the brain. Investigators also will look at how these changes affect hand movements.
Patients accepted into the study will come for two to three visits, four to six months apart during the course of the chemotherapy or hormonal treatment. At each visit, participants will have a brain imaging scan (MRI) and a test to assess the health of the brain and nervous system using a magnetic pulse. Individuals also will have brain activity and function measured while performing special tasks.
Serena Wong, MD, medical oncologist at the Cancer Institute and assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is the referring physician for the study at the Cancer Institute, who also will be screening participants. “The brain typically recovers from these cognitive side effects over time, but subtle changes can sometimes persist for years.This study will enable investigators to better understand the relationship between cancer treatments and brain function. Our goal is to find ways to minimize or even prevent the effects of ‘chemo brain,’ thus helping to improve the patient’s quality of life,” she said.
Post-menopausal, right-handed women between 50 and 70 years old who have had or are scheduled to have surgery for breast cancer or are scheduled to receive or are currently receiving chemotherapy or hormone treatment are eligible to take part in the trial, although other criteria must also be met. Healthy post-menopausal women with no evidence of breast cancer also are being sought for comparison.
For more information on how to take part in this trial, individuals should call the research team at 800-248-3221 extension 3525 or e-mail [email protected]
Clinical trials and research studies underway at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey explore diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer, as well as management of cancer symptoms. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey currently enrolls more than 1,200 patients in clinical trials each year, including approximately 17 percent of all new adult cancer patients and approximately 70 percent of all pediatric cancer patients. That compares with fewer than five percent of all adult cancer patients enrolled nationwide.
As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Cancer Institute offers patients access to treatment options not available at other institutions within the state.