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Cancer patients sometimes experience mental cloudiness during and even after their cancer treatment.
The symptoms of chemo brain can be very frustrating both for those who are going through cancer treatment, as well as for their loved ones, who are trying to provide support.
Oncologists and other physicians have known for years that radiation can contribute to patients experiencing memory problems, but more recent information now suggests that chemotherapy is also linked to some of the cognitive problems patients experience. The good news is that there is now more information available to patients to verify that chemo brain symptoms are real. Generally the changes that patients experience are subtle, while those around them may not even notice any changes. When the symptoms of chemo brain begin, how long these symptoms last and how much trouble or difficulty they cause may vary quite a bit. For the short term symptoms, studies suggest that there may be more than one possible cause for chemo brain.
Other drugs associated with the cancer treatment such as steroids, anti-nausea or pain medications.
These may all contribute to short term memory problems associated with chemo brain symptoms. The symptoms associated with chemo brain are generally for a short term, usually diminishing shortly after the patient’s cancer treatments are complete.
Give your brain a work out – stimulate your mind with word puzzles, taking a class or even trying a new language. Eat more vegetables – studies confirm that eating more vegetables better maintain brain power as people age. Unlike other chemotherapy side effects like hair loss, which is easy to see, many of those around you may not be aware of any the chemo brain symptoms you are experiencing, unless you tell them. Tell your family, friends, co-workers and your health care team about any chemo brain symptoms you experience.
If you experience chemo brain symptoms during your cancer treatment, please tell your oncologist. While there is now more awareness about chemo brain and the symptoms, we still need much more research and information to better understand it and hopefully prevent it. Please visit our chemotherapy side effects page to learn more about other possible side effects during cancer treatment.
Oncology Associates provides world class cancer care to patients in Omaha and throughout Nebraska, with clinics in Blair and Norfolk. The most common side effects of Cancer treatment are hair loss, like pain, fatigue and nausea. The national cancer institute estimated that more than 1.5 million people were diagnosed with some type of cancer each year. As cancer cells can grow and divide very quickly compared to normal cells, anticancer drugs will kill those growing cells.
But in our body healthy cells also quickly multiply and cancer treatment can affect these cells also. Some type of anticancer medications may affect the vital organ cells like kidney, lungs, heart, bladder and also nervous system. Usually normal cell can be recovered when chemotherapy treatment is completed, so most of the side effects can be decreased gradually, and healthy cells will grow normally. Chemotherapy: Early menopause, infertility, cataracts, liver problems, heart problems, hair loss, reduced bodily capacity, lung disease, osteoporosis etc.

Radiation Therapy: Hypothyroidism, Cataracts, cavities and tooth decay, lung disease, memory problems, intestinal problems etc. Keep in mind that not all who are getting cancer treatment gets all late or long-term side effects; some might not experience any kind of side effects of cancer treatment. Supportive or palliative care, which focuses on relieving the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment are very useful.
Anne Koller closes her eyes as an oncology nurse attaches a line for chemotherapy to a port in her chest.
Originally published on April 15, 2015 11:13 am Anne Koller was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer in 2011 and has been fighting it since. These sometimes vague yet distressing mental changes cancer patients notice generally last a short period of time, but they also may go on for years. Unfortunately, more research is still needed to help patients cope with this symptom, as well as with preventing it altogether.
While there is currently no known way to prevent chemo brain, it does seem to occur more often with high doses of chemotherapy and is also more likely if the brain is also treated with radiation.
For some patients the treatment of their cancer may lead to trouble with their memory and thinking, but, again, these symptoms are usually not long lasting. They will want to check for any other conditions that may be causing or contributing to your symptoms, as well as review your treatment plan.
Thankfully most of the people who do witness this particular side-effect experience it for a short time. Fast growing, normal cells that are usually to be affected are the blood cells, which form in bone marrow and also cells that form in the digestive tract, hair follicles and reproductive system.
These side effects can make the patients uncomfortable and also affect their ability to stick to the treatment methods or even make the treatment less effective than they could be.
Time to get recovery from side effects may depend on few things, such as your treatment type and your health condition. This care can be given at any time during the person’s illness in order to help their condition and to provide comfortable environment to them. All material provided on this website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. David SamadiIn Prostate Cancer, Prostate Cancer Diagnosis, Prostate Cancer Tips, Prostate Health, Sex After Prostate Cancer, Tips From Dr. David SamadiIn Mens Health, Prostate Cancer, Prostate Cancer Diagnosis, Prostate Cancer Tips, Prostate Health, Sex After Prostate Cancer, Tips From Dr. How much these chemo brain symptoms are attributable to being a side effect of the patient’s chemotherapy treatment or the rigors of cancer treatment still remains to be identified. The first step in coping with chemo brain is to understand that the memory symptoms the patient may experience are not imagined, but valid.
If your symptoms are significantly interfering with your day-to-day life, your doctor may recommend that you see a specialists to conduct a more in-depth evaluation.
Once the experience of chemo brain is accepted there are some things the patient can do to help them manage their chemo brain symptoms. Besides chemotherapy, there are many different elements associated with a patient’s cancer that can worsen brain function. Middle-income patients are feeling the weight of that financial burden more than ever, says Dr.
High-deductible health plans and soaring drug prices are to blame, he says, and a sea change happened when a new generation of drug therapies got FDA approval for treatment in the late 1990s.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last year that found that, compared with people without a cancer diagnosis, cancer survivors are less likely to work and more likely to struggle financially. Another study, out of Washington state, found that the longer a cancer patient survived, the higher the rate of bankruptcy. Jonas de Souza argues that it's time for oncologists to begin considering the financial consequences as a real side effect of cancer care. Should we also be talking about, 'Well, this chemotherapy is expensive'?" He and Meropol are part of a growing field of researchers studying the impact of costs for cancer patients. She is now using the very last of her savings to pay the bills — and, still, some are going unpaid. This story is part of NPR's reporting partnership with WCPN and Kaiser Health News.Copyright 2015 Cleveland Public Radio.
Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: When people are diagnosed with cancer, they face burdens on their health and also on their minds.
There's the fear of dying, the turmoil of treatments and just carrying on with daily life, not to mention medical bills and dealing with collection agencies.
SARAH JANE TRIBBLE, BYLINE: Anne Koller was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer in 2011 and has been fighting it since.
ANNE KOLLER: Think of those old horror movies - the swamp creature that comes out and is kind of oozy, ruining everything in its path.
KOLLER: You start looking at these bills, and as much as you know it's expensive - the shock. TRIBBLE: Even though she had insurance, what she owed climbed into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Neal Meropol is at Cleveland's University Hospitals, where Koller began the latest phase of treatments. In the past, we would readily recommend a new treatment that increased life expectancy by, say, a couple of months, without regard for what the cost implications for the patient are. TRIBBLE: Meropol says the issue first caught his attention in the late 1990s, when a new generation of cancer treatments were approved. The federal government found cancer survivors were less likely to work and more likely to struggle financially. Another study found that the longer a cancer patient survived, the higher the rate of bankruptcy. TRIBBLE: Jonas de Souza at the University of Chicago says doctors should talk about cost like other side effects of therapy. He says the financial stress of cancer treatment could cause depression, or worse, cause patients to back off their treatments.
TRIBBLE: She says it would've been good for someone early on in her treatments to warn her about the cost.
INSKEEP: This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR News, WCPN and Kaiser Health News.

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