Project ID: 2015_022_VAR_01_Vardy

Cognitive impairment is recognised by up to 70% of breast cancer survivors as a major side-effect of treatment that impairs function and quality of life, and for which there is no proven treatment for this impairment. This research project will compare two treatments to determine which, if either, is more beneficial.

The researcher:
Associate Professor Janette Vardy

Associate Professor Janette Vardy is a medical oncologist working as a clinician researcher at the Concord Clinical School, University of Sydney. She has established a Survivorship Clinical Service at Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Repatriation General Hospital. Associate Professor Vardy’s main areas of research are Psycho-Oncology, Quality of Life and Survivorship, with a particular interest in cognitive function and physical activity in cancer survivors. Together with Dr Haryana Dhillon, she leads the Survivorship Research Group (SuRG), within the Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, University of Sydney. Dr Haryana Dhillon is a behavioural scientist with research interests in cancer survivorship, particularly cognition after cancer, physical activity, sleep disturbances and health literacy. She co-leads the Survivorship Research Group (SuRG), Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making, University of Sydney.

Who is eligible?

This project is looking for women in the greater Sydney region who:

  • Have completed chemotherapy for early (Stage I, II or III) breast cancer at least 6 months ago and whose cancer has not spread outside of the breast and lymph nodes
  • Are currently free of breast cancer and able to speak and read English
  • Have noticed changes in their memory, concentration and thinking since diagnosis and treatment

What does this project involve?

Firstly, there will be a questionnaire to make sure this study is suitable for you. Then, in order to compare the effectiveness of each method of treatment, participants will be randomly allocated into one of three groups. You will not be able to choose which treatment you receive.

Group 1 (Attention Process Training small group sessions) and Group 2 (Compensatory Strategies small group sessions)

Once a week for 6 weeks, you will be asked to visit a hospital to participate in a 2 hour program in small groups. Group 1 will undergo a structured program to develop brain processes and Group 2 will discuss strategies to manage changes in cognition. Both groups will be asked to complete 2 hours of homework each week and in the 7th week will be asked to visit the hospital again to participate in a final group discussion.

Group 3 (Standard care)

This group will maintain their follow-up as usual with their treating clinicians and other health professionals. At the completion of the study they will be invited to participate in either of the cognitive rehabilitation programs if they are found to be more effective than standard care.

Everyone participating in the study completes neuropsychological assessments four times: once before starting the trial, at about 8 weeks after starting the trial, then again at 6 and 12 months. The assessments involve working through a series of exercises designed to see any changes in your memory, concentration and thinking.

Where is the project being conducted?

This study is being carried out at hospitals around Sydney through the Concord Cancer Centre and Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making at the University of Sydney.

How do I express interest in participating?

To get more information about this project:

  • Click on “Yes, I’m interested” at the bottom of this page and follow the prompts.
  • Call us on 1300 709 485 and we can help you through the process. Register4 is an online register, so have your email address ready.egister, so have your email address ready.

After we verify your details, we will send you an invitation email. This invitation email formally asks whether you give Register4 permission to forward your contact details to the researcher. You will also have the opportunity to specify which contact details you would like us to send to the researcher on your behalf.