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How stress may contribute to cognitive difficulties among breast cancer patients

Elevated stress levels among women with breast cancer and patients' methods of coping may contribute to memory and attention impairments commonly experienced after undergoing chemotherapy treatment, according to findings recently published in the Journal for Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.

In the small study (subscription required), a group of breast cancer patients completed neuropsychological testing and psychological questionnaires following surgery for breast cancer and prior to any subsequent treatments. The Huffington Post reports:

Researchers found that 27 percent of [participants] had evidence of verbal fluency deficits, and 14 percent of them had some sort of memory impairment.

How much stress the women reported having was correlated with these impairments, according to the study.

The researchers suggested that women can cope with stress by acknowledging their feelings.

"Teaching patients proactive ways to deal with stress can help them improve their quality of life as well as maintain their cognitive function," [study co-author Stephanie Reid-Arndt, PhD,] said in a statement.

Previously: Stanford study shows effects of chemotherapy and breast cancer on brain function

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