Association of cognitive impairment and breast cancer survivorship on quality of life in younger breast cancer survivors

Diane Von Ah*, Adele D. Crouch, Patrick O. Monahan, Timothy E. Stump, Frederick W. Unverzagt, Susan Storey, Andrea A. Cohee, David Cella, Victoria L. Champion

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: Younger breast cancer survivors (BCS) often report cognitive impairment and poor quality of life (QoL), which could be interrelated. The purpose of this study was to examine the association of cognitive impairment and breast cancer status (BCS versus healthy control (HC)), with QoL, which included psychological (depressive symptoms, well-being, perceived stress, and personal growth) and physical well-being (physical functioning and fatigue). Methods: Four hundred ninety-eight BCS (≤45 years at diagnosis) who were 3 to 8 years post-chemotherapy treatment and 394 HC completed subjective questionnaires and a one-time neuropsychological assessment, including tests of attention, memory, processing speed, and verbal fluency. For each test, cognitive impairment was defined as scoring 1.5 and 2.0 standard deviations below the mean of the HC group. Separate linear regression models for each outcome were ran controlling for known covariates. Results: BCS reported significantly more memory problems than HC (p < 0.0001), with up to 23% having significant impairment. Cognitive performance did not differ significantly between BCS and HCs. BCS vs. HCs had greater depression and fatigue, yet more personal growth. Objective and subjective cognitive impairment were significantly related to greater depressive symptoms and perceived stress and lower well-being and physical functioning; whereas, objective impairment was related to less personal growth and subjective impairment was related to greater fatigue. Conclusions: Younger BCS report significant cognitive impairment years after treatment which may relate to greater decrements in QoL. Implications to Cancer Survivors: Assessment and interventions to address cognitive concerns may also influence QoL outcomes in younger BCS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)812-822
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Breast cancer survivor
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Physical well-being
  • Psychological well-being
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Oncology


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