Skip to main content

Mild Cognitive Impairment in Breast Cancer


This observational study will examine changes in brain-region size, shape, and activity that occur in women with breast cancer and how those changes relate to the development of mild cognitive impairment. Three groups will be compared: women with breast cancer who will undergo hormonal therapy with or without chemotherapy, women with breast cancer who will undergo no therapy or radiation therapy, and healthy female volunteers.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
40 Years 70 Years Female Yes
June 2013
December 2020

  • Women at any stage of breast cancer without brain metastasis who have undergone surgery (healthy volunteers also accepted)
  • Cognitively normal based on annual examinations done as part of the NIA Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers (ADRC) program
  • Recruited from the Northwestern University ADRC Clinical Core

  • Significant medical, neurologic, or psychiatric illness such as major depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, Alzheimer's disease or other dementia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self Report (IDS-SR) score of 30 or higher
  • Brain surgery or head injury, previous head injury, or condition requiring neurosurgical procedures
  • Ineligibility for magnetic resonance imaging, including but not limited to medical implants or devices, potential metal in the body, claustrophobia, or permanent makeup
  • Consumption of neuropsychiatric or illicit drugs that would affect cognition
  • Individuals with a history of breast cancer will be excluded from the healthy control group.
  • Pregnancy

This study aims to identify neuroimaging biomarkersspecifically, measures of the brain's hippocampal-cortical integritythat can predict mild cognitive impairment in female breast cancer patients who receive chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy. These therapies increase long-term survival but produce changes in cognitive function, sometimes as soon as 3 months after treatment, in an average of 30 percent of women with breast cancer. Early identification of women at risk for developing treatment-related cognitive impairment is needed to develop potential prevention or treatment options and prevent further decline.

Although neuroimaging studies have identified brain changes associated with chemotherapy ("chemo brain"), none has assessed the type and severity of such changes following hormonal therapy. No study has determined which individuals are at greatest risk for cognitive impairment.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
Northwestern University
Chicago Illinois 60611 Recruiting Melody Fairchild, M.A.T.

Northwestern University

  • National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)

Name Role Affiliation
Lei Wang, PhD Principal Investigator Northwestern University

Name Phone Email
Melody Fairchild 312-503-7071


Hippocampal Predictors of Cognitive Impairment (HippoPCI) in Breast Cancer Patients