Cancer Patients Often Get 'Chemo Brain'

Study suggests about a quarter suffer from mental fog after treatments

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 28, 2012 5:31 PM CST
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(Newser) – A new study suggests that up to a quarter of cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy end up with a side effect known as "chemo brain," reports NPR. Those afflicted say they're just not as sharp as they were before treatments—"it literally felt like your were trying to fight your way through fog," says one breast cancer patient. In the study, a West Virginia University professor looked at brain scans before and after chemo treatments and found decreased activity in the area of the brain used for memory and related cognitive skills.

Chemotherapy "can cause damage to bone marrow, hair cells, mucosa," he says. "In the same way, it can potentially cause changes in the brain cells, too." The good news is that the problem seems to be temporary, he adds. The study was a small one of 128 breast cancer patients, so it's unclear for now whether the results can be extrapolated to all types of chemo and cancers. Read (or listen to) the full story here.

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