Breast cancer and its treatments are associated with mild cognitive impairment and brain changes that could indicate an altered or accelerated brain aging process. We applied diffusion tensor imaging and graph theory to measure white matter organization and connectivity in 34 breast cancer survivors compared with 36 matched healthy female controls. We also investigated how brain networks (connectomes) in each group responded to simulated neurodegeneration based on network attack analysis. Compared with controls, the breast cancer group demonstrated significantly lower fractional anisotropy, altered small-world connectome properties, lower brain network tolerance to systematic region (node), and connection (edge) attacks and significant cognitive impairment. Lower tolerance to network attack was associated with cognitive impairment in the breast cancer group. These findings provide further evidence of diffuse white matter pathology after breast cancer and extend the literature in this area with unique data demonstrating increased vulnerability of the post-breast cancer brain network to future neurodegenerative processes.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.04.015
View details for Web of Science ID 000355771100010
View details for PubMedID 26004016