Led by Lisa Hess, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health and obstetrics and gynecology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and researcher at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, the trial measures the brain function of women receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.
“There’s a huge body of evidence that chemotherapy affects cognitive function,” Dr. Hess said. “Many patients call it chemo-brain. People forget where they left their keys, they forget to pay a bill. It’s a significant problem that affects their daily function.”
Although other studies have examined chemotherapy’s effects on the cognitive function of lung and breast cancer patients, few have looked at the effects on ovarian cancer patients.
For this trial, a participant will take an Internet-based test before her chemotherapy begins. The test, according to Dr. Hess, tracks basic functions of the brain such as attention, recall, and processing speed.
Participants then take the test again three times during and following chemotherapy treatment. These assessments will help researchers determine how much of a problem cognitive decline may be for women with ovarian cancer.
Women ages 18 years and older who have been diagnosed with Stage I, II, III, or IV ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancers are eligible to participate. The trial is being conducted at many hospitals and clinics around the country, including the IU Simon Cancer Center.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, abdominal pain, and urinary symptoms that persist for several weeks or more. In 2009, the National Cancer Institute estimated there were 21,550 new cases of ovarian cancer. Of those, 14,600 women died of the disease.
Patients interested in participating may contact Nancy Menning, R.N., at (317) 944-1658.