Experts believe the effects of cancer treatment on people with a history of the disease increase their risk of encountering problems with their memory, compared with those who have not had the disease.
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People who are currently battling the disease, and those who have had cancer in the past but have since been given the all-clear, are 40% more likely to experience loss of functioning.
The memory problems could be caused by treatment such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone therapies, or the way the cancer grows and behaves, which may cause brain chemistry to change, the experts believe.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey involved nearly 10,000 people from a wide range of backgrounds and the research was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Denver.
Memory problems were reported more often by people who currently had cancer (14%) than by those who did not (8%).
People who had suffered suffered cancer in the past also had around a 50% higher chance of suffering memory loss.
The researchers, led by a team at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, concluded: “Overall, participants with cancer had a 40% greater likelihood of having memory problems that interfered with daily functioning.”