A team of researchers, led by a Carleton University psychology professor, has received funding for their study to investigate memory problems of breast cancer survivors.
“What we are trying to understand are memory complaints of breast cancer survivors,” said Lise Paquet, who is working with neuropsychologist Dr. Barbara Collins and medical oncologists Dr. Shailendra Verma and Dr. Xinni Song.
“(Some survivors) say they have trouble with their memory and they didn’t have those issues before. It’s a little bit of a puzzle about what is going on with them.”
While there have been studies done on breast cancer and other types of memory, the aim of the study is to explore impairments in prospective memory, which causes difficulties in remembering to do things in the future, which hasn’t been examined before.
“The type of memory we are looking at is the memory that when you form an intention to do something in the future,” he said. “It’s the memory system that allows you to do what you want to do.”
A lot of people fail to implement the intention they have formed, said Paquet.
The group has received $65,880 over two years from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation — Ontario Region. Paquet hopes to start testing women as soon as July.
“We are at the beginning of this,” she said. “We are the first people who are looking at this memory system. Once you find they have a problem in that memory system, then you start finding causes. This will give us some indication as to where to look next and what to do, because if we find deficits in people, there’s rehabilitation that can be offered.
“That would then increase the quality of their lives,” said Paquet. Memory problems, she said, have the potential to adversely affect the quality of their lives, relationships and their self-esteem.
“They are survivors, but they are suffering the long-term effects of their cancer experience. We are hoping to improve the quality of their lives by improving their memory functioning.
“We’re really trying improve the quality of survivorship.”