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April 06, 2004

ChemoBrain/Cognitive Dysfunction

In today's Wall Street Journal's Health Journal, Tara Parker-Pope discuss one of my continual issues, ChemoBrain.

Research from UCLA indicates marked differences in the brains of breast-cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy. As noted in the article, studies of "breast-cancer patients show that nearly two-thirds of women treated with chemo develop some level of cognitive problems, though most recover on their own in weeks or months after treatment stops."

The problems relate to "focus, fast thinking, organization skills and an inability to multitask," indicated Eric Winer of Dana-Faber Cancer Institute.

In a study at M.D. Anderson, about 60% of patients showed significant cognitive decline after chemotherapy. This study gave patients neuropsychological assessments before and after chemo.

Although there has been a fair amount of research done on ChemoBrain (see Other Resources), it seems that finally the issue is now become discussed as a side-effect with cancer patients before undergoing chemotherapy. In addition, there is research into how to help with a very frustrating side-effect.

Although the traditional side-effects of chemotherapy are a pain, ChemoBrain for me frequently leads to slight depression and anxiety. I think in part, this is due to that as I start feeling better after chemo, ChemoBrain becomes more apparent, especially as I try to concentrate or attempt to do more complex thinking.

I have found that reading, writing and relaxation due seem to help with ChemoBrain. With research underway with the use of both Procit and Ritalin, I'd prefer to continue to use non-drug therapy if possible. Adding medication, unless it proves to be highly-effective, is one of the last things I'd like to due.

The exciting news is that ChemoBrain has become a side-effect as important as nausea!

Other Resources:

Susan Love, MD - FAQ - ChemoBrain
Journal of Clinical Oncology - Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Adjuvant Chemotherapy
WebMD - Memory, Concentration Problems May Be Related to Chemotherapy
PinkRibbon.com - ChemoBrain , good exercises to try.
MyHealthSense.com - ChemoBrain Leaves Patients at a Loss

09:01 AM in Chemo Chronicles | Permalink


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Craig - I miss you. Love, Erin

Posted by: Erin at Apr 16, 2005 10:48:28 PM

Today is the first I have read of this! I had breast cancer in 1996, 6 months of chemo. My memory is continuing to dissapear? Early mentopause and orvarian failure have been my battles in the last five years. Memory lose has been increasing.

Posted by: Lynette Barnett at Dec 1, 2006 7:55:17 AM

The world needs to know that people who undergo intensive (1 year) of interferon/riboviran therapy also have developed chemo brain. Interferon is an extremely potent form of chemotherapy and many HepC virus patients are experiencing ChemoBrain. Someone out there needs to let HEP C patients know this. It would help them realize that they are not going insane.

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