TAMPA BAY - Florence Bronner is at the Moffitt Cancer Center today, but not for breast cancer treatment.
After surgery and radiation, she's cancer free. So, why is she here taking what looks like a memory test? She said, "After my surgery, they asked if I would volunteer to be in research."
This research is to better determine the effects of chemotherapy on the brain. Chemo is routinely used to treat many cancers. It has a number of side effects including hair loss, nausea and fatigue.
A growing body of research suggests chemo also causes subtle, but long term changes in some patient's thinking- known as chemo brain.
Paul Jacobsen, Ph.D., is the Associate Center Director for Population Science at the Moffitt Cancer Center.
He said, "Most studies, so far, on chemo brain have focused on younger women and it may be the older women who are more particularly sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy. So this study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, specifically focuses on women 60 or older who are being treated for breast cancer."
Those cancer patients are being recruited at Moffitt Cancer Center, but Jacobsen said in order to tell what the effects are they need a comparison group. The study is currently looking for volunteers for the comparison group. They are looking for women who are 60 or older, who have never had breast cancer. You'd be required to give a saliva sample and meet with researchers three times over the next two years to answer some questionnaires and take memory tests.
Jacobsen said, "Ideally we'd like to prevent these problems and identify those medications that are the culprits and suggest some other ways to treat breast cancer not using those medications. Or we might be able to develop ways to help women who have these problems cope better with them."
Donna Dunlap has a friend recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She enrolled in the study to support her. "I think anything you can do in the field of research that helps people that do have cancer, I want to be a part of it."
Volunteers will be compensated $50 for each visit.
Those who are interested in participating can call 813-745-8245 or email TLCstudy@moffitt.org