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The prominence of cognitive dysfunction because of cancer treatment, referred to as “chemo brain” is increasing due to the number of cancer survivors. Research on chemotherapy related cognitive dysfunction has been focused on breast cancer survivors. The purpose of this study was to establish if a connection between chemotherapy cancer treatment and cognitive dysfunction exists. This evaluation of literature explored PubMed, DynaMed, Psychiatry Online, and Cochrane which compared cognitive abilities before and after chemotherapy cancer treatment. This paper examined the research over the last 10 years, of women ages 18-70 and the connection between chemotherapy treatment and cognitive dysfunction. Jansen et al. (2011) found significant decreases in cognitive impairment after receiving chemotherapy, followed by improvements 6 months after the completion of chemotherapy in the cognitive domains of visuospatial skill (p<0.001), attention (p=0.022), delayed memory (p=0.006), and motor function (p=0.043). Results from a study by Lindner et al. (2014) indicated that cognitive impairments were found in the cross- sectional studies including immediate free recall (p=0.03), delayed memory (p=0.02), verbal memory (p<0.001), delayed recognition memory (p=0.02), selective attention (p=0.02), and attention capacity (p<0.001). This paper has shown that a positive connection between chemotherapy cancer treatment and cognitive dysfunction exists and that the degree of cognitive dysfunction is highly variable for each individual. The results indicated that chemotherapy related cognitive dysfunction should be discussed as a debilitating side effect before chemotherapy cancer treatment is initiated. Survivor support should also be increased in order to accommodate cancer survivors affected by chemotherapy related cognitive dysfunction.


Physician Assistant Studies

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

First Advisor

Vikki McCleary

Publication Date



Cancer Survivors; Cognitive Dysfunction -- etiology; Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions -- complications; Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions -- prevention & control



Chemotherapy Cancer Treatment and Cognitive Dysfunction

Included in

Oncology Commons