Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Brent Peterson and Reid Hayward


There are more than 100 clinically distinct types of cancer, each having their own symptoms and requiring a different method of cancer treatment. Despite current advances, the positive effects from treatment are often matched and outweighed by negative effects. One of the most prevalently reported symptoms is chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI). CRCI has been reported to negatively affect memory, concentration, reaction time, attention, cognition, organizational skills, linguistic abilities, executive function, and activities of daily living. Purpose: To examine the effects of a 12-week aerobic and cognitive training on cognitive function in cancer survivors who have undergone or are currently undergoing adjuvant treatment for cancer. Methods: A total of ten patients who either were going through chemotherapy or had just finished the treatment participated in this pilot study. Groups were composed of cancer-aerobic (n = 2), cancer- cognitive (n = 2), cancer-aerobic and cognitive (n = 2), cancer- flexibility (n = 2), and non-cancer controls (n = 2). Each subject completed an initial comprehensive physical assessment, cognitive assessment, Quality of Life (QOL) assessment, Piper Fatigue Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory. Following these assessments, a 12-week computer-based aerobic training, cognitive training, and flexibility training intervention was completed by every participant. Upon completion of the intervention, all of the variables were reassessed. Results: Friedman’s 2-way non-parametric ANOVA revealed significant (p­< 0.05) differences in QOL, depression, Piper fatigue subtest-B, the plank test, and the Weschler Memory Scale LMII. However, follow-up dependent measures t-tests only confirmed significant decreases in fatigue in the cancer-cognitive group. Conclusion: Although results are preliminary and sample sizes are small, the data would suggest that both cancer survivors and non-cancer controls respond favorably toward aerobic and/or cognitive training and that cognitive training alone may be specifically beneficial for cancer survivors suffering from CRCI.