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Feasibility of Cognitive Training to Promote Recovery in Cancer-Related Cognitive Impairment in Adolescent and Young Adult Patients


Background: Computer-based cognitive rehabilitation programs may help adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with cancer-related cognitive impairment. This pilot study investigated the feasibility of cognitive rehabilitation as a preventive intervention for AYA patients receiving chemotherapy. Explorative objectives included the correlation of cognitive performance with serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Methods: This pilot prospective study included English-speaking patients 12-25 years of age with a fist diagnosis of cancer requiring chemotherapy. Participants enrolled in the intervention arm participated in a computer-based neurocognitive training program for 20-30 minutes daily for 16 weeks. Outcome measures, including engagement with and completion of computerized neurocognitive testing and serum BDNF levels, were obtained within the first month following diagnosis, ∼16 and 24 weeks from enrollment. Results: Fourteen of 18 eligible patients provided consent, with 7 patients assigned to each the intervention arm and nonintervention arm. Seventy-one percent of the patients in the intervention arm completed at least 80% of the required activities. Compared to baseline, patients in the nonintervention arm demonstrated higher prevalence of impairment in four of the six cognitive domains (processing speed, visual attention, attention/working memory, and executive function) at the end of the study period. There was a nonstatistically significant reduction of serum BDNF levels over time, which was observed in both intervention and nonintervention arms. Conclusion: This pilot study provides some evidence that it is feasible for AYAs with new cancer diagnoses to receive standardized cognitive rehabilitation. Patients receiving cognitive activities experienced less impairment in numerous cognitive domains.

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