Analysis of Memory Deficits Following Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Survivors: Evidence from the Doors and People Test Academic Article uri icon


  • Studies of cognitive effects of chemotherapy among breast cancer patients show that not all women who are exposed to chemotherapy develop cognitive dysfunction and that the observed declines in cognitive functioning may be quite subtle. The use of measures that are sensitive to subtle cognitive decline are recommended yet rarely used among clinical populations. The purpose of this study is to specify the types of memory changes observed among breast cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy and tamoxifen, by using an analytic test of memory, the Doors and People test, which uses age-adjusted norms. The participants were 40 women who were survivors of breast cancer, 20 of whom had completed chemotherapy treatment and 20 women who were treated only with tamoxifen. There were no significant differences between the two groups in overall scores and in all four subtests: visual memory, verbal memory, recall, and recognition measured by age-adjusted scores. Forty percent of patients in both of the groups were classified as having mild impairment in episodic memory. No between-group differences were found in the frequency of subjective, cognitive complaints. Subjective complaints were reported by 69% of patients but were unrelated to objective performance. Memory deficits were observed in breast cancer patients who receive either chemotherapy or tamoxifen alone compared to age-adjusted norms. The Doors and People Test is a sensitive measure of memory deficits that is feasible for use with clinical populations of breast cancer patients in order to monitor changes in cognitive function.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011