Survivorship Issues in Breast Cancer Patients

Start Year: 2015
Finish Year: 2018
Chief Investigator: A/Prof Janette Vardy
Grant Type: Practitioner Fellowship
Institution: University of Sydney

Breast cancer survivors have poorer health than the general population with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, as well as risk of cancer recurrence. They are also at risk of functional decline and poorer health due to treatment-related side-effects, including fatigue and cognitive impairment. Preliminary results suggest these effects may be worse in elderly cancer survivors. I propose a multifaceted approach to study these long-term side-effects and chronic health issues in breast cancer patients with a focus on cognitive function, fatigue, physical activity and weight management. The research includes the following studies:

  1. Animal models investigating the impact of chemotherapy on cognitive tasks, the underlying mechanisms and the areas of the brain affected. Treatment interventions (physical activity and the drug Ibudilast) aimed at reducing cognitive impairment after chemotherapy will be evaluated, and if promising will be translated to human studies.
  2. Three randomized controlled trials will evaluate the efficacy of treatments found to be successful in treating cognitive impairment in non-cancer populations: cognitive rehabilitation programs and ginkgo biloba.
  3. Chemotherapy leads to accelerated cognitive ageing and to determine its impact on activities of daily living.
  4. Evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness of two lifestyle modification studies for cancer survivors aimed at increasing physical activity and healthy eating. The first study assesses a telephone-delivered intervention and the second a face-to-face group-based intervention.