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Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology: Sanne Schagen

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Sanne Schagen, Ph.D.Group leader

About Sanne Schagen

Cognitive functioning in cancer patients

Patients with central nervous system malignancies almost universally experience cognitive dysfunction during their disease course. In recent years it has become clear that patients without central nervous disease may also be confronted with cognitive and brain changes. The vast majority of the work in this area has occurred in the context of breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, while there is fair body of evidence linking a much wider spectrum of chemotherapeutic regimens for a variety of cancers to cognitive changes.

In our current projects we focus on the investigation of the incidence, trajectory, cause and risk of cognitive changes associated with chemotherapy in different groups of non-CNS patients. We conduct clinical and preclinical studies and apply advanced human neuroimaging techniques to further understand the biological basis of cognitive changes, and to form starting points for preventive and therapeutic pharmacological studies. Meanwhile our efforts are also directed at helping patients who at present struggle with cognitive difficulties that negatively affect their daily life and work ability by using behavior interventions for which effectiveness has already been demonstrated outside the oncology setting. 

In our upcoming generation of studies, we will pay attention to increase our understanding of the occurrence, etiology and meaning of endocrine therapy-associated cognitive changes. Much less research has been done, in this area while manipulations in humans and animal models indicate that hormones affect cognition. Finally, very little is known about possible cognitive consequences of many new targeted agents and immunotherapies. Assessing their independent impact on cognitive function as well as their influence when combined with other cancer treatments will be an important task for our group in the near future.

In neuro-oncology patients our current work is directed into the effects of cranial radiation on the brain, because with prolonged survival for subgroups of primary and secondary brain tumor patients, we are increasingly facing late radiation induced CNS damage. This stresses the need to identify groups at risk and to develop interventions to reduce cognitive decline associated with this treatment modality.

Co-workers

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Dr. Michiel de Ruiter

Senior postdoctoral fellow

Experience

My research focus is on side effects of cancer treatment on cognitive functioning and the brain. My background is in cognitive neuroscience (PhD University of Amsterdam in 2005). I was a research fellow for KWF working in labs in Oxford, Cologne and Dresden. I received a KWF grant on MRI predictors of cognitive problems in breast cancer patients that I now work on. I also co-supervise PhD neuroimaging projects in testicular and breast cancer patients. Finally, I supervise and conduct multicenter neuroimaging studies that are part of trials on cognitive side effects of prophylactic cranial irradiation in lung cancer patients.

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Marianne Kuenen

Research Assistant

Experience

I graduated as a Dietitian at the Academy Dietetiek inNijmegen. After nine years of clinical experience I had the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant at the Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology where I followed several courses.

My current work consists of conducting neuropsychological tests and collecting and management of data.

I am involved in some Scientific studies like: P09PCI study, HOVON105, M12PHA study, Skinlast study, TIME-trial and scientific research on cognitive function after treatment of cancer.

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Heleen Feenstra MSc.

PhD Student

Experience

How are our brains and our behavior related? That is my main scientific interest, and therefore I studied 'Clinical Neuropsychology' (Maastricht University & University of Amsterdam) and worked on several research projects in this area afterwards (UMC Utrecht & Karolinska Institute).

Since 2011 I am happy to work at the NKI on my PhD project. For this project we are developing a method for internet-based neuropsychological testing in order to gather more information on cognitive functioning after cancer and cancer treatment in the future. This enables me to combine neuropsychological research/ assessments, and product development in my work.

I aim to finish my PhD project with a user-friendly online test to efficiently measure cognitive functioning in cancer patients.

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Wendy Jacobs, MSc

Ph.D. Student

Experience

I studied Communication Science at the VU University inAmsterdamand also graduated in Child Development and Education (Orthopedagogiek) at theUniversityofAmsterdam. Further, I completed several courses of the Bachelor Communication and Information Science at the VU University.

In my PhD project I focus on health communication and I study how to inform patients best on cancer treatment and side effects of treatment. My goal is to combine insights from language studies, psychology and communication science in trying to improve patient communication. 

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Dr. Riejanne Seigers

Postdoctoral fellow

Experience

Adjuvant chemotherapy is associated with cognitive impairment in a subgroup of patients. This has been confirmed in animal studies in which a number of agents cause cognitive impairment and/or affect several neurobiological processes. Unfortunately, there is little connection and coherence between these studies because of a large diversity in experimental setup. This limitation was the basis of my project in which several chemotherapeutic agents are being analyzed for their effects on cognition and several neurobiological processes in collaboration with the department of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, VU University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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Myrle Stouten-Kemperman MSc

Ph.D. student

Experience

I graduated as a neuropsychologist and neuroscientist. In my PhD-project (started in July, 2010) I have the opportunity to combine those two disciplines. My research project focuses on the long-term effects of cancer treatment on the brain and cognition. This research is conducted in patients treated for breast cancer and testicular cancer >10 years ago. By means of extensive neuropsychological research I assess several aspects of cognition such as memory, concentration and planning. Additionally, I investigate brain structure and function by conducting MRI scans of the brain.

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Sanne Menning MSc

Ph.D. Student

Experience

After obtaining my Masters degree in Neurosciences I started my PhD project in January 2010. I study the effects of chemotherapy on cognition and brain structure and function within a longitudinal design. Breast cancer patients who are currently being treated undergo extensive neuropsychological testing to study several aspects of cognition such as memory and attention. By means of MRI scans, brain function and structure are assessed.

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Fleur van Ierschot MSc

Research Assistant

Experience

A double degree in neuropsychology and neuroscience has made me eager to pursue a neuroscientific career in clinical setting. Within the group of Cognition and Cancer, I have been given the opportunity to obtain clinical research experience while working in an interdisciplinary team. As a research assistant, I contribute to the research project of developing an online neuropsychological testing tool to measure cognitive functioning after cancer and cancer treatment. By assessing and analyzing a wide variety of patients, I also conduce in obtaining customized reference data for cognitive functioning after different types of cancer.

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Anna Meijer MSc

Research Assistant

Experience

I graduated in neuropsychology at the University of Amsterdam. I'm very interested in the clinical aspect of neuropsychology as well as the science and would like to contribute to it both. Currently, I am following a master in Human Movement Sciences at VU University. My future goal is to combine neuroscience and movement science in research.                                

In my current job as research assistant I'm very pleased to contribute to the clinical side of research. I will support the validation process of a recently developed online neuropsychological test battery for assessing cognitive problems which are associated with cancer and cancer treatment. My main job is to contact patients and take the neuropsychological exams, as well as administrative duties such as data management.             

I feel fortunate to be part of the NKI. I realize the importance of the constant development of Cancer research and am very glad to contribute to this.

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Kimberly van der Willik

PhD Student

Experience

In 2010 I started studying Medicine at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. During my second year I was taught about oncology. The impact and challenges of this disease intrigued me. Since then I developed a great ambition working in this field.

After I obtained my medical degree in 2016, I was pleased to start working as a PhD project at the NKI and Erasmus MC. In this project we are looking at the cognitive functions prior to cancer diagnosis and in cancer survivors, trying to identify trajectories of cognitive decline in cancer patients.

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Recent publications View All Publications

  • Is basic research providing answers if adjuvant anti-estrogen treatment of breast cancer can induce cognitive impairment?

    (2013) Life Sciences [Epub ahead of print].

    Buwalda B, Schagen SB.

    Link to Pubmed
  • Global and focal white matter integrity in breast cancer survivors 20 years after adjuvant chemotherapy

    (2012) Human Brain Mapping [Epub ahead of print].

    Koppelmans V, Groot MD, de Ruiter MB, Boogerd W, Seynaeve C, Vernooij MW, Niessen WJ, Schagen SB, Breteler MM.

    Link to Pubmed
 

Contact

  • Office manager

    Yvonne Driessen-Ruwaard & Danielle Groenewegen

  • E-mail

    secretariaat.PSOE@nki.nl

  • Telephone Number

    0031 20 512 2480

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