Chemotherapy-related subjective cognitive impairment in breast cancer patients in semi-rural south africa

Nicholas M. Keetile*, Elzbieta Osuch, Antonio G. Lentoor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer amongst women worldwide. Whilst current evidence indicates the therapeutic benefits from the use of chemotherapy, self-perceived cognitive difficulties emerged as a frequent occurrence during and after chemotherapy treatment in breast cancer patients. Aim: The current study sought to investigate self-perceived cognitive impairment in a group of breast cancer patients in semi-rural South Africa. Setting: The patients were recruited from an outpatient oncology clinic at a semi-rural, tertiary academic hospital in Gauteng, South Africa. Methods: In a randomised, quantitative, time-based series study, 30 female patients aged 21–60 years (mean age = 50 years) diagnosed with stages II and III breast cancer on CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, fluorouracil) (n = 10) and FAC (fluorouracil, adriamycin, cyclophosphamide) (n = 20) chemotherapy regimens, completed the self-reported Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Cognition (Fact-Cog) test as a measure of subjective cognitive functioning at three points during the course of treatment (T0, T1, T2 ). Results: The results of the paired sample t-tests showed the scores on the Fact-Cog test confirmed significant cognitive decline for both treatment groups from baseline (T0 ) to completion (T2 ) of chemotherapy; CMF group, t (9) = 2.91, p = 0.017 and the FAC group t (19) = 4.66, p < 0.001. Conclusion: This study confirms that self-reported subjective cognitive impairment is common in breast cancer patients who received chemotherapy in a sample of South African patients. The results have implications for the overall care of cancer patients. Contribution: The context-based knowledge engendered by the current study is expected to augment the continuum of care for breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera1605
JournalHealth SA Gesondheid
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Breast cancer
  • Chemobrain
  • Chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI)
  • Fact-Cog test
  • Perceived cognitive impairment


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