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When Do I Get My Brain Back? Breast Cancer Survivors’ Experiences of Cognitive Problems

Heather Becker
Ashley Henneghan
Sabrina Q. Mikan
CJON 2015, 19(2), 180-184 DOI: 10.1188/15.CJON.180-184

Background: Many survivors report troubling cognitive problems that can persist long after active treatment and seriously affect their quality of life, particularly in terms of employment.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore survivors’ perceptions of their cognitive functioning.

Methods: Ten female breast cancer survivors receiving treatment in a community oncology setting participated in interviews or a focus group.

Findings: Six major themes were derived from the analysis: cognitive problems, effects on employment, emotional response, search for answers, coping mechanisms, and the providers’ role. The breast cancer survivors reported psychological distress about perceived cognitive problems in concentration, memory, and other cognitive functions. They sought answers about the cause and were frustrated by a lack of information from providers. Although treatment strategies are limited, healthcare providers should validate patients’ concerns by discussing possible cognitive limitations and should allow them to talk about the impact of cognitive problems on their lives.

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