Rebola says the app is still being refined, but they hope to begin trials soon, specifically looking at patients who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
“I don’t think people quite understand how many cognitive issues are associated with treatment for cancer,” says Michelle Kirschner, MSN, director of Program Development for Survivorship and Supportive Services at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, who is also involved in this collaborative study. “Chemotherapy and radiation, while lifesaving in some cases, take their toll on patients, and in particular, patients who undergo treatment for breast cancer have an abnormally high rate of worsening cognitive issues.
“Our team is in charge of creating a cognitive assessment pathway for patients from diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond, and we don’t have many options to help when they are struggling with cognitive problems. This is why, when Dr. Sengupta came to us as partners, we were so excited to be involved.”
Patients will be evaluated by the research team using approved neurofunction assessment tests and surveys; additionally, they will undergo MRI scans at six, 12 and 18 months to see how their brain is physically changing with intervention.
“We are fusing our disciplines to find the right interventions for these patients, and we are excited to involve neuroradiologists, like Dr. Abdelkader Mahammedi, in this important research as well," says Sengupta, referring to the assistant professor of radiology at UC and a UC Health neuroradiologist. “Sometimes, it is difficult to assess cognitive impairment in patients by using surveys and assessments alone. The imaging will be a concrete way to see if this therapy is working.”