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Cancer-Related Cognitive Dysfunction: Addressing the Impacts

presented by Suzänne Taylor PhD

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Financial: Suzanne Taylor receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.

Non-Financial: Suzanne Taylor has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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Often described as having difficulty with paying attention or concentration, difficulty with short-term memory, and feeling forgetful, cancer-related cognitive dysfunction (CRCD) affects up to 75% of cancer survivors. Up to 35% of these individuals may experience persistent cognitive impairment for months or years following treatment. In this course Dr. Suzänne Taylor details how CRCD impacts activity performance, emotional well-being, and interpersonal relationships. She then explains how therapists are best able to screen, assess the impact, evaluate, and treat those with CRCD based upon our current understanding of CRCD, current guidelines, and suspected contributing factors.

Meet Your Instructor

Suzänne Taylor PhD, MBA, OTR/L

Suzänne Taylor, PhD, MBA, OTR/L, has extensive experience in oncology rehabilitation including providing direct therapy interventions and presenting on state, regional, and national levels. Dr. Taylor has dedicated her career to furthering oncology rehabilitation education, research, and program development. Her clinical practice included working in areas of surgical oncology, otolaryngology, hematology and medical oncology, bone…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. What is Cancer-Related Cognitive Dysfunction?

In previous years, the cognitive dysfunction experienced by many cancer survivors was often dismissed as either related to the stress of cancer, or perhaps present before any oncology treatments. Previously referred to as chemo-brain, a growing body of research supports the long suspected concept that cognition may be impaired due to the cancer itself and /or cancer treatments. In this chapter Dr. Taylor explains our understanding of suspected physiological changes, premorbid conditions, and contributing factors to CRCD.

2. The Impact of Cancer-Related Cognitive Dysfunction

This chapter focuses on how CRCD impacts the cancer survivor's life on multiple levels from their sense of self and relationships through performance of everyday activities. Join Dr. Taylor as she highlights how the compounding effects of CRCD become significantly disruptive in both the cancer survivor's and their loved ones' lives.

3. Screening, Assessing, and Evaluating Cancer-Related Cognitive Dysfunction

Considering that upwards of 75% of cancer survivors experience changes in their cognitive functioning at some point between pre-diagnosis and through advanced disease, therapists should screen every client that has, or has had, cancer. At present there are no widely accepted measures to screen, assess, and evaluate CRCD, yet there are a multitude of options. Join Dr. Taylor as explains the current guidelines related to the identification and evaluation of CRCD.

4. Treating Cancer-Related Cognitive Dysfunction

Steady progress over the past decades has improved our understanding of cognitive impairments associated with cancer and cancer treatments. However, at present there are no clear guidelines for the management of CRCD. In this chapter Dr. Taylor emphasizes the need for therapists to utilize their clinical skills and knowledge to treat CRCD and improve functional abilities and quality of life for their clients. She explains how therapists can utilize a three-pronged approach of compensation, rehabilitation, and mitigation to best optimize cognitive performance.

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Clinicians who work with cancer survivors must have an understanding of how cancer and the associated treatments cause a changing trajectory of physical and cognitive abilities. In this course, Dr. Suzänne Taylor provides an overview of cancer treatments and the commonly associated side effects. Along with the impact of cancer on an individual's psychosocial well-being, Dr. Taylor provides examples of how functional abilities may rapidly change. This course strengthens the clinician's ability to anticipate changes in function and appropriately adjust therapy goals and interventions.

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Oncologic emergencies are defined as an acute and potentially life-threatening event caused by cancer or the associated treatments. While some of these may take months to develop, others may manifest in just hours. With the improved ability to provide outpatient cancer treatments, oncologic emergencies are no longer isolated to the hospital setting. This means regardless of the practice setting, the therapist may be the one to identify the developing oncologic emergency. In this course, Dr. Suzänne Taylor discusses signs and symptoms of oncologic emergencies. She details how therapists can identify early signs and symptoms and how to facilitate risk reduction in certain oncologic emergencies.

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Advances in oncology care have led to greater numbers of cancer survivors living much longer after diagnosis. Unfortunately cancer and cancer treatments can negatively impact literally every aspect of the person including physiological, physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. Additionally, long-term and sometimes persistent lingering effects decrease performance abilities and overall quality of life. Rehabilitation professionals play a key role in mitigating the effects of cancer and cancer treatments and improving outcomes. In this course, Dr. Suzänne Taylor explains how oncology clinical practice guidelines and standards support the involvement of rehabilitation from diagnosis through survivorship, advanced disease and end-of-life. She provides recommendations for the focus of therapy interventions based upon cancer treatments, anticipated physiological responses and disease state.

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