Estrogen deprivation vs. chemo brain?


Question from BerniceT: How can we differentiate between the effects of chemotherapy on memory problems and the effects of estrogen deprivation? In my case I had an oophorectomy following chemotherapy, which induced a sudden menopause. I was 40 at the time but 3 years on I still struggle to think clearly.
Answers - Christina Meyers I don't know that you can separate it exactly, but a sudden menopause does cause cognitive problems unlike normal menopause where it happens gradually and you have some hormones hanging around.
George Sledge, M.D. This is a literature I find confusing. There has been, as a subset of one of the large adjuvant hormonal therapy trials, a randomized look at women who received an aromatase inhibitor as opposed to women who received a placebo. If I read the results of this trial correctly, there was no difference in neurocognitive function between these two groups of women.
Christina Meyers We have a trial that will be published soon looking at tamoxifen and we find the same pattern we do with chemotherapy — some women have no problems, most women have moderate problems, some have such severe problems they must be moved to another agent. Abrupt hormone ablation (and it's the same for men with prostate cancer) can cause problems.
George Sledge, M.D. And the age at which this happens can make a difference. The effects on a 35-year-old are quite different from the effects on a 60-year-old.

On Wednesday, October 15, 2008, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Managing Chemo Brain. Christina Meyers, Ph.D., A.B.P.P. and George Sledge, M.D. answered your questions about how long chemo brain can last, what treatments can be helpful, and current research on cognitive effects of breast cancer treatment.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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