Researchers at The University of Texas M. D.
Anderson Cancer Center have received funding to investigate the
long-term effects of chemotherapy on men surviving testicular cancer.
Were looking for evidence of potential long-term problems
in learning and memory that may result from the high-dose
chemotherapy used to treat advanced cases of this disease, says
Dr. Ellen R. Gritz, psychologist and principal investigator of the
study, entitled Neurocognitive Function and Quality of Life
After Testicular Cancer Treatment. Dr. Gritz is chairperson of
M. D. Andersons Department of Behavioral Science.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation is funding the 3-year $150,000 grant.
Internationally known to the world of competitive bicycling, the
26-year-old Armstrong has returned to the sport following successful
treatment for testicular cancer.
The study currently is open only to M. D. Anderson patients who are
newly diagnosed with nonseminoma testicular cancer.
Focus on Effects of Therapy on Emotional and Cognitive Function
Because testicular cancer most often strikes men 10 to 34 years old,
Dr. Gritz and colleagues will attempt to measure the long-term
effects of treatment on indices of emotional and cognitive function.
These issues are particularly important for the survivors
occupational as well as social functioning because of the high
long-term survival rates, in excess of 95%, for testicular cancer,
Dr. Gritz says.
Part of this study involves looking at emotional
adjustment issues and family relationships related to treatment with
chemotherapy, she says.
One of our cancer prevention aims is understanding issues of
lifestyle that can enhance survivorship, says Dr. Bernard
Levin, vice president for cancer prevention at M. D. Anderson.
This study further develops these efforts, namely, addressing quality-of-life
issues in cancer patients and survivors, helping these individuals
lead more fulfilling lives following a cancer diagnosis.
Previous research with breast cancer patients has revealed cognitive
deficits associated with high-dose chemotherapy regimens used to
fight the disease. These long-term symptoms include memory loss,
decreases in information-processing speed, reduced attention,
anxiety, depression, and fatigue, says Dr. Christina Meyers,
associate professor in M. D. Andersons Department of Neuro-Oncology.
Because investigators in previous studies observed some of
these cognitive deficits in breast cancer patients, we wondered if
the same effects may occur in testicular cancer survivors receiving
similar treatment, says Dr. Alice Sigurdson, a researcher in M. D.
Andersons Department of Epidemiology.
If evidence of these conditions is found in testicular cancer
survivors, researchers can institute interventions to help these
patients, perhaps including rehabilitation exercises that strengthen
learning and memory functions, Dr. Gritz says.