R. Laush1, T. Burnham1, K. Roemer1, R. Galindo1, K. Kemble2,3

1Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA; 2Confluence Health, Wenatchee, WA; 3University of Washington, Seattle Washington

Cancer Related Cognitive Impairment (CRCI), or “chemo-brain,” has become a recognized problem for cancer survivors; however, limited evidence exists concerning interventions that may improve cognition for this population. Symptoms include: short-term memory loss, decreased concentration, mental “fogginess” and fatigue. These symptoms may contribute to a decrease in quality of life. PURPOSE: To measure the effectiveness of a multi-dimensional cancer survivor rehabilitation program on cognition as well as physical and psycho-social functioning. METHODS: Sixty-two post-treatment cancer survivors, (7 men, 55 women, 35-77 years) were subjects in a one group, pre-post, quasi-experimental design. Subjects were cleared for exercise prior to participation by their primary oncologist. The program consisted of two, 90 minute sessions per week for 12 weeks. Each meeting was divided into 3 sections: an educational activity, cardiovascular endurance training, and a strength and flexibility session. A subset of this group (n= 22) participated in brain exercise games once per week for 15 minutes. Dependent measures included: the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), the General Practitioner assessment of Cognition (GPCOG), aerobic capacity, body fat %, lower body flexibility, handgrip strength, quality of life, Schwartz fatigue scale, and the LASA scale (fatigue, anxiety, confusion, depression, energy and anger). RESULTS: The following measures showed statistically significant (p < .05) improvements: GPCOG increased 6.6%, aerobic capacity increased 20.7%, body fat decreased by 1.9%, lower body flexibility improved 14.3%, handgrip strength increased 11.6%. Quality of life increased 10.4%. Fatigue measured by the Schwartz scale decreased 18.5%, LASA scale results: fatigue decreased 36.7%, depression decreased 49.2%, confusion decreased 42.7%, energy increased 23.8%, anger decreased 40.8%, anxiety decreased 30.7%. MoCA increased 4.3% and approached significance (p= .056). CONCLUSION: The combination of tools acquired in the cancer rehabilitation program proved effective in improving cognition and reducing symptoms often seen in post-treatment cancer survivors. The mechanism for cognitive improvement cannot be ascertained from the design of this study but may hold promise for future studies.

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