July 26, 2021

Mood and cognition after chemotherapy

Validation of cognitive complaints appears to improve mood in patients with persistent chemotherapy-cognitive impairment, Vanderbilt researchers report.

Persistent chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is commonly reported following cancer treatment, negatively affecting quality of life. The role of factors such as mood, stress and anxiety in the development of persistent CRCI is unclear. 

As an additional analysis of data from a trial studying nicotine patches and cognitive performance in patients with persistent CRCI, Jennifer Vega, PhD, and colleagues examined whether change in mood was associated with changes in subjective and objective cognitive functioning. 

Study participants were randomized to placebo or transdermal nicotine for six weeks, followed by two weeks of treatment withdrawal. Participants were assessed using behavioral, subjective and objective measures of cognitive functioning and mood at five visits before, during and after treatment. 

Researchers observed improvement in objective and subjective cognitive performance measures, associated with improvement in mood and likely resulting from participation in the trial itself. The findings, reported in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, suggest that women with persistent CRCI may benefit from validation of their cognitive complaints and cognitive rehabilitation in post-cancer care. 

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants AG047992, TR000445, MH110598, AG058524).