Improving cognitive impairment in survivors of prostate cancer

In this project, researchers want to investigate physical training (cycling) with cognitive training, compared to doing the physical or cognitive training alone, to see if it helps improve fatigue, memory, and thinking among men receiving hormone treatment.

  • Topic: Prostate cancer
  • Institution: University of Canberra
  • Country: Australia
  • Status: Ongoing
Researcher: Ben Rattray

Cognitive impairment in survivors of prostate cancer: combining cognitive and physical activity for a brain fog fix

This project is co-funded with Cancer Australia


Fatigue and problems with memory and thinking are common after prostate cancer treatment, particularly for men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy (hormone treatment). Currently, little is understood about why this happens, and healthcare professionals do not know how best to help men experiencing these problems.

In healthy people, there is some evidence suggesting that combining cognitive training with physical exercise (such as cycling) can better protect the brain.

Aims and Objectives

In this project, researchers want to investigate physical (cycling) with cognitive training compared to doing the physical or cognitive training alone, to see if it helps improve fatigue, memory, and thinking among men receiving hormone treatment.

This research project will provide the needed information to understand the benefits of physical and cognitive training. Information will be gained on how participants engage with the interventions, as well as whether or not they think this would be an intervention to complement existing cancer care.

This information will inform the research team whether a larger trial should be undertaken.

How it will be done

In this study, researchers will assess men prior to, and after, an 8-week training intervention (cycling, cognitive training, cycling with cognitive training, or a wait-list control).

Participants will be asked to complete a cognitive test to assess memory and more complex brain processes, a fitness test, and questionnaires relating to quality of life. A small blood sample will also be collected to determine if there are changes in a marker that reflects damage to the brain cells.

Comparisons will be made between men completing the cycling and cognitive training together, to those doing the cycling or cognitive training elements alone. Those in the cycling group will complete up to 1 hour of moderate-intensity cycling twice per week, for 8 weeks.

Those in the cycling and cognitive training group will also ride at a moderate-intensity for 1 hour but, in addition, will complete a computerised cognitive training program whilst exercising. A separate group will do the computer-based cognitive training only during each training visit.

Given many patients suffer from fatigue, fatigue will also be closely investigated through the study, and responses to the training noted to help healthcare professional provide the most appropriate models of cancer care in the future.

Potential impact

This important research project will provide much needed information to help scientists and healthcare professionals deliver the most appropriate and evidence-based rehabilitation care for men affected by prostate cancer who receive ADT.

Changes in the brain (cognitive function) are of concern to many men affected by this disease. This research will help to reduce the associated stress which can negatively impact quality of life.

We look forward to investigating news ways to potentially improve the quality of life of prostate cancer survivors. Many cancer survivors have complaints regarding their cognitive health and there is potential that our findings may be transferable to a wider cancer population. We are excited to have been given the chance to so meaningfully improve the lives of prostate cancer through this grant.
Dr Ben Rattray