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

(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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Showing 3 of 9 comments
Dec 29, 2012 11:21 PM CST
Well... What the heck else do you expect to happen to the brain with radiation?!
Dec 29, 2012 12:03 PM CST
Whole brain radiation wasn't peachy-keen, either. IQ (WAIS) unaffected, but "processing speed" is way down. My thoughts go at a snails pace (frustration with this pace is inevitable, but certainly not helping anything). Neuropsych isn't entirely sure the Gys are to blame, said it's likely to be at least partially due to anticonvulsant meds. Cancer is a fucker. Cancer: the only thing worse than cancer treatment.
Dec 29, 2012 9:13 AM CST
Chemo also destroys the "flora" in your digestive track that helps break-down your poop. So, when you go through chemo, you either have the chits or are so blocked up that you need a spoon to dig out your poop after treatment. Yet, if it also affects your blood and bone marrow, then why is it used for people like me who have b-cell cancers, like leukemia, where the cancer "is" the blood and bone marrow? I was going to say something else, but I forgot what it was.