Background:Cognitive difficulties, such as loss of memory or ability to concentrate, have been associated with chemotherapy and other treatments for breast cancer. Causes for intellectual impairments have been proposed, including biological and psychological factors, however, strong evidence is lacking. Regardless of the cause, it is important for caregivers to appreciate, which cognitive impairments most concern their patients. As part of this survey, we sought the opinions of women with breast cancer to ascertain how these women rated the ability to concentrate among 21 major issues.Methods:We utilized the established patient base of the web-based NexCura information resource to survey registered patients with breast cancer. Demographic stratifications included disease stage, age, menopausal status, time since diagnosis, prior/current treatment with surgery, RT, chemotherapy, hormonal, targeted, and CAM approaches. 1071 women (median age 53, 65% stage I, 43% > 2 years since diagnosis) completed the anonymous web-conducted survey. Patients ranked the importance of 21 issues on a 5-point scale. Issues included general, physical, functional, psychosocial and summative items.Results:Of all 21 items, the 1071 women ranked the ability to concentrate as one of the four most important factors, as determined by those who rated it in the top category (very important, 65%) and the top 2 importance categories (97%). It followed only overall quality of life in the “very important” category, and was tied with maintaining independence and the ability to sleep in the sum of the top 2 importance categories. Analysis is being conducted to determine if ratings by breast cancer subsets (newly diagnosed, on treatment, NED, hormonal or non-hormonal treatment, metastatic disease, survivor-status) will differ compared with the whole group.Conclusions:Interference with concentration can affect nearly every aspect of functioning and quality of life, and can have an impact on quality decision making. Regardless of whether causes of cognitive impairment have supporting evidence, caregivers should be aware of the level of importance of concentration to patients with breast cancer and report symptoms related to executive function.Our results from one of the largest groups of breast cancer patients surveyed to date support the belief that women value the ability to concentrate most highly.
Citation Information: Cancer Res 2009;69(24 Suppl):Abstract nr 5049.