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The Cancer and Cognition Program aims to better understand and improve cognitive outcomes in patients with cancer and blood disorders across the lifespan. Patients with cancer often face cognitive problems, sometimes referred to as “chemo-brain” or "chemo-fog", following their cancer diagnosis and/or cancer treatment. Patients may have trouble concentrating or remembering details which makes it difficult for them to complete daily tasks such as managing their medications or appointments. These cognitive complaints often interfere with their ability to return to school or work after treatment. These problems are prevalent across the lifespan and independent of the age at diagnosis, and represents unique challenges for childhood cancer, adult, and geriatric cancer survivors. The Cancer and Cognition Program at ICOS is built over four main pillars with the overall goal of addressing and managing cognitive outcomes in cancer survivors:

  1. Clinical and genetic profiling of cognitive outcomes
  2. Identifying individuals at high risk of cognitive outcomes
  3. Development, testing, and implementation of cognitive interventions
  4. Improvement of transition of care and functional independence

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In order to accomplish our overall goal, we have established a number of research programs across multiple disciplines, including pediatric hematology/oncology, neuropsychology, adult oncology, and radiation oncology. We also utilize a number of novel research techniques in order to best understand, treat, and prevent cognitive problems in patients across the lifespan. Our studies employ self-reported and objective standardized cognitive measures and collect DNA specimens for future investigation of genetic determinants of cognitive outcomes in cancer survivors. We also use several different neuroimaging techniques in order to improve our understanding of how the brain is affected by cancer diagnosis and/or cancer treatment.

We test different innovative intervention approaches using compensatory and restorative approaches to improve cognitive outcomes in cancer survivors. Additionally, our research aims to better understand the brain circuitry changes in response to cognitive interventions. Lastly, we aim to better understand how individual cognitive profiles and neuroimaging changes are affected by exposure to radiation during treatment.

Examples of the type of neuroimaging techniques used in our research:

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