Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 164, Issue 1, pp 179–187 | Cite as

Role of taxanes in chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment: A prospective longitudinal study

  • Noemí CerullaEmail author
  • Àngels Arcusa
  • José-Blas Navarro
  • Maite Garolera
  • Cristina Enero
  • Glòria Chico
  • Luís Fernández-Morales



The aim of this study is to elucidate the role of taxanes on cognition when they are administered as a part of the treatment with a fluorouracil, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (FEC) regimen for breast cancer (BC).


Two groups of women (n = 51) with a novel diagnostic of BC that were treated with a combination of FEC alone (6 cycles of FEC) or with taxanes (4 cycles of FEC plus 8 cycles of taxanes) were compared at three moments: before chemotherapy, after its completion (short-term evaluation) and at a mean of 74.5 weeks from baseline as a long-term evaluation.


Both groups showed worsening in tests of attention and executive functions on the short-term assessment, with the group treated with taxanes showing more number of affected cognitive measures at this time point, including verbal learning and speed measures. At the long-term evaluation, cognitive dysfunction was still found in attention and executive functions in both groups.


Our results suggest that chemotherapy for BC with a FEC regimen can have a negative effect on cognition. Acute deficits seem to be larger when taxanes are added, but treatment seems to affect cognition also at long term.


Breast cancer Oncology Cognition Practice effect Taxanes 



The authors would like to thank the women who participated in the study, and Carme Civit, Carme Aracil, Natalia Cuenca, Nuria de la Osa Chaparro, Carme Pérez-Ventana, Antonio Sánchez-Hidalgo, Resident Intern Psychologists (PIR) from Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa for their contribution.


The research support was provided by grants from the first prize of the Joan Costa I Roma Foundation (FJCR), Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa, a non-profit organization for research and innovation. None of the authors have financial relationship with the organization that sponsored the research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

This study complies with the current laws of the country where it was performed.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Memory UnitConsorci Sanitari de Terrassa (CST)TerrassaSpain
  2. 2.Brain, Cognition and Behaviour Research GroupUnitat d’Investigació Biomèdica UAB-CST (UIB)TerrassaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Clinical and Health PsychologyUniversitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)Cerdanyola Del VallèsSpain
  4. 4.Department of OncologyConsorci Sanitari de Terrassa (CST)TerrassaSpain
  5. 5.Department of Psychobiology and Methodology of Behavioural SciencesUniversitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)Cerdanyola Del VallèsSpain
  6. 6.Department of Mental HealthConsorci Sanitari de Terrassa (CST)TerrassaSpain
  7. 7.Department of OncologyCorporació Sanitària Parc TaulíSabadellSpain

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