Cancer Q&A: What is Chemo Brain?

Cancer Q&A: What is Chemo Brain?

The following information is provided by the Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge and was published by The Advocate.

Chemo brain is the common name given to a group of side effects cancer patients experience during or after chemo. Some patients receiving other types of treatment often experience these side effects; so the name is not entirely accurate and may also be referred to as “cognitive dysfunction.”

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms you might be experiencing what is commonly known as chemo brain:

  • Memory loss
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Trouble finding the right word
  • Difficulty with new learning
  • Difficulty managing daily activities

For years some questioned if chemo brain was real, but today it is an acknowledged fact. However, there is still no known cause for the affliction, so the treatment options are limited. Many patients find relief with simple lifestyle habits such as these:

  • Stay organized — Keep a planner or calendar to write down important dates and meetings. Tape reminder notes on your computer or door.
  • Exercise your mind — Use crossword puzzles or number games to help your memory. Learn a new skill/hobby or attend an interesting lecture.
  • Take care of your body — Eating a proper diet, getting enough sleep and exercising are all important to keeping your memory functioning at its best.
  • Control your environment — Keep items in the same place. Avoid distractions and work in an area you find soothing to you.
  • Ask for help — Tell your loved ones what you are going through so that they can understand when you forget things.

More on the Web

Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects – National Cancer Institute 

Chemo Brain – American Cancer Society

Chemo brain – Mayo Clinic

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