Memory Training for Breast Cancer Survivors
A significant problem among breast cancer survivors is their quality of life after treatment. Many women experience problems with memory and feelings of slowing mental processes, which can lead to fatigue, anxiety and depression. Diane M. Von Ah, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor at the IU School of Nursing reports that these symptoms can be severe enough for patients to feel they have a poorer quality of life which persists after the end of their treatment. So far, there are very few treatment programs which address such problems for this group of patients.
With her colleagues Von Ah studied two different treatment options to deal with the cancer patients’ problems and published their results in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. These treatment options included a memory training program and a computer program which aimed to improve cognitive performance and speed.
The study involved 82 breast cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy and experience changes in cognitive function affecting their memory. They all underwent evaluation of cognitive function before, immediately after and a couple of months after their training. Memory training involved teaching them strategies to improve memory for word lists, sequences and other text materials. A computer program called Insight (developed by Post Science) trained them to improve their memory and ability and speed in processing information.
The results of the study showed that women experienced improvements in their symptoms under both training programs, with Insight having a greater impact. However, the authors believe that larger studies must be done to confirm their results.
Indiana University School of Medicine. Memory and thought-process training show promise in managing breast cancer symptoms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 4, 2012.