Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 2127–2131 | Cite as

Electroencephalogram power changes as a correlate of chemotherapy-associated fatigue and cognitive dysfunction

  • Halle C. F. MooreEmail author
  • Michael W. Parsons
  • Guang H. Yue
  • Lisa A. Rybicki
  • Wlodzimierz Siemionow
Original Article



Persistent fatigue and cognitive dysfunction are poorly understood potential long-term effects of adjuvant chemotherapy. In this pilot study, we assessed the value of electroencephalogram (EEG) power measurements as a means to evaluate physical and mental fatigue associated with chemotherapy.

Patients and methods

Women planning to undergo adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer and healthy controls underwent neurophysiologic assessments at baseline, during the time of chemotherapy treatment, and at 1 year. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to analyze the data.


Compared with controls, patients reported more subjective fatigue at baseline that increased during chemotherapy and did not entirely resolve by 1 year. Performance on endurance testing was similar in patients versus controls at all time points; however, values of EEG power increased after a physical task in patients during chemotherapy but not controls. Compared with controls, subjective mental fatigue was similar for patients at baseline and 1 year but worsened during chemotherapy. Patients performed similarly to controls on formal cognitive testing at all time points, but EEG activity after the cognitive task was increased in patients only during chemotherapy.


EEG power measurement has the potential to provide a sensitive neurophysiologic correlate of cancer treatment-related fatigue and cognitive dysfunction.


Chemobrain Breast cancer Cognitive effects Fatigue 


Conflict of interest



The Cleveland Clinic (internal funding)


  1. 1.
    Mar Fan HG, Houede-Tchen N, Yi QL et al (2005) Fatigue, menopausal symptoms, and cognitive function in women after adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer: 1- and 2-year follow-up of a prospective controlled study. J Clin Oncol 23:8025–8032CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Donovan KA, Small BJ, Andrykowski MA et al (2005) Cognitive functioning after adjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy for early-stage breast carcinoma. Cancer 104:2499–2507PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Arndt V, Merx H, Stegmaier C et al (2005) Persistence of restrictions in quality of life from the first to the third year after diagnosis in women with breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 23:4945–4953PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ranganathan VK, Siemionow V, Davis M et al.: Cancer-related fatigue is associated with neuropsychological and neuromuscular junction impairments. Soc Neruosci Abstr, 398.9, 2005.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Siemionow V, Fang Y (2005) Calabrese et al.: altered central nervous system signal during motor performance in chronic fatigue syndrome. Clin Neurophysiol 115:2372–2383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mendoza TR, Wang XS, Cleeland CS et al (1999) The rapid assessment of fatigue severity in cancer patient: use of the Brief Fatigue Inventor. Cancer 1 85(5):1186–1196Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Beck AT, Steer RA, Brown GK: Beck Depression Inventory FastScreen for medical patients; The Psychological Corporation, 2000.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bentall RP, Wood GC, Marrinan T et al (1993) A brief mental fatigue questionnaire. Br J Clin Psychol 32(Pt 3):375–379PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Koppelmans V, Breteler M, Boogerd W et al (2012) Neuropsychological performance in survivors of breast cancer more than 20 years after adjuvant chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 30:1080–1086PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Schagen SB, Muller MJ, Boogerd W et al (2002) Late effects of adjuvant chemotherapy on cognitive function: a follow-up study in breast cancer patients. Ann Oncol 13:1387–1397PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Han SD, Bangen KJ, Bondi MW (2009) Functional magnetic resonance imaging of compensatory neural recruitment in aging and risk for Alzheimer’s disease: review and recommendations. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 27:1–10PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Halle C. F. Moore
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael W. Parsons
    • 1
  • Guang H. Yue
    • 1
  • Lisa A. Rybicki
    • 1
  • Wlodzimierz Siemionow
    • 1
  1. 1.The Cleveland ClinicClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations