Endocrine therapy (ET) is widely used to treat hormone receptor positive breast cancer and prevent recurrence by downregulating estrogen function. However, ETs readily cross the blood brain barrier and interfere with the action of estrogen in the brain. Estrogen supports cognition and menopausal status is closely linked to cognitive health in women. This has raised concern that anti-estrogen ETs may affect cognition and brain health in breast cancer survivors. However, evidence across existing studies is inconsistent and these effects remain poorly understood. The incomplete understanding of the effects of ET are likely due to limitations of earlier studies – namely, the under-appreciation of the role of menopausal status and insensitivity of standard cognitive measures. This research project will address these earlier limitations by specifically comparing ET effects by menopausal status, and using highly sensitive, task-related fMRI measures to assess the effects of ET on brain function.
This study is a cross-sectional study in a 2×2 factorial design comparing menopausal status (pre and post) and patient group (breast cancer survivors on ET and healthy controls matched on age, race, education, and time since final menstrual period (post only)). The investigators will use sensitive fMRI measures of brain activity during a working memory task – measures successfully used to reveal the effects of menopause and estrogen changes in healthy women, but yet to be extensively used to study the effects of ET.
The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. By listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details.