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FRIDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy are at risk for mild mental deficits known collectively as "chemo brain," a new study finds.
Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., reviewed existing research on brain function ("cognitive" functioning) in breast cancer patients who received standard doses of chemotherapy for at least six months.
The analysis revealed that, on average, these patients had mild impairments in verbal abilities (such as difficulty choosing words) and visual-spatial abilities (such as getting lost more easily).
Mental functioning varied among the patients, with some reporting no problems and others reporting more severe or widespread impairments, the investigators found.
The study was published online Aug. 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"Breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy who have subsequent cognitive deficits should be referred to a neuropsychologist for evaluation and management of the deficits," lead author Heather Jim, whose research focuses on the psychosocial and behavioral aspects of cancer survivorship, said in a Moffitt news release.
"Management usually involves developing an awareness of the situations in which their cognitive difficulties are likely to arise so that they can come up with strategies to compensate," she explained. "Research shows that such strategies can make a big difference in daily life when cognitive difficulties do arise."
The American Cancer Society has more about chemo brain.
SOURCE: Moffitt Cancer Center, news release, Sept. 4, 2012
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:06 PM
i finished chemo in july and my brain is still foggy i would like to know if it ever goes away
Wed Sep 12, 2012 09:14 PM
I finished chemo 11 years and I am still foggy... but after about 6 months I really improved - but never returned to where I was... maybe because chemo also put me into menopause - and becoming forgetful and foggy is also common with this group --- but for me, it never did go away :( But I am here!!
Wed Sep 12, 2012 09:20 PM
Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:13 AM
And women treated with aromatase inhibitors also have chemo brain. This is not just my own experience. It has been reported in another study.
Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:44 AM
I also have cognitive impairment as the result of chemo. It was officially diagnosed in July 2008 at the Neuropsychiatry Clinic at the Univ. of Washington here in Seattle. Unfortunately, my employers were unwilling to accommodate my disability in any way, although I was rated as a "high performer" prior to my cancer. I was forced to go on long-term disability and subsequently to retire, both of which had a significant negative effect on my income. I am 5 yrs out from chemo but still have the same problems with the "executive functions" portion of my brain. I hope to take part in a research study on impaired cognition at the University of Washington in the hear future. I strongly recommend that anyone experiencing "chemo brain" explore available resources for diagnosis and treatment.
May we all be safe and free from suffering.
Thu Sep 13, 2012 04:25 AM
I had radiation and definitely felt the cognative effects - plus I was thrown into menopause at 33. I went to UCLA where they told me about chemo brain and how common it is. They put me on an anti-depressant and within a week I was already feeling and acting better, could remember more easily, focus, not get lost in thought as much, learn and retain information faster. It's been 2 years now and I'm noticing that I'm beginning to feel like myself again. I'm glad people are talking about this because it can be really confusing and scary when your brain isn't working the way you're used to (on top of all the post traumatic stress in dealing with surgeries and treatments.
I hope this study starts to help everyone and make doctors aware that they need to treat the patient even after treatment is complete so they can go on to live the rest of their lives.
Thu Sep 13, 2012 01:41 PM
I had 39 radiation treatments and 32 chemo infusions plus 9 months of Tarceva in order to beat my 3b lung cancer. I have been symtom free for 1 3/4 years and although it happened very gradually just this summer I am feeling back to normal. It is possible that the vitamin D and B12 helped.
Fri Sep 14, 2012 08:04 AM
My husband had chemo in Jan/Feb/March and also still has chemo brain. He has been taking zinc to help but it still kicks in now and again.
Sat Sep 15, 2012 01:47 PM
I finished chemo 13 months ago (16 transfusions), also had 25 radiation treatments to my tumor (in my thigh, Sarcoma). So we are not just talking Breast Cancer patients here. I have had FOGGY brain, chemo brain every day and it is NOT getting better. I walk around for 5 or 6 hours in the early part of the day in a fog, but get a little better by 4 in the afternoon. Trying something now called NEUROFEEDBACK, trying to train the brain to quiet some areas and start up the foggy portion. taking loads of supplements but that hasn't helped either
Sun Sep 16, 2012 07:17 AM
I had six months chemo(A/C/T/Herceptin)33 Rads in 2006 for stg 2 IDC breast cancer. Got severe chemo brain along with some other long term side effects it got a little better 2 yrs ago but still suffer with memory loss, trouble finding some words ie know what I want to say but cant think of correct word, and multi tasking is totally beyond my currect capabilities. I had to take long term disability and early retirement at age of 54 due to this.My neurologist told me nothing could be done and neuropsychologist advised me a yr ago dmg was permanent.I have a supportive husband that helps and I write lots of notes to myself so I don't forgot appts, bills, etc. I wish everyone better luck than I have had but am so grateful to still be here & feel incredibly lucky to still be in remission.
Wed Sep 19, 2012 09:26 PM
I had chemo and radiation and find that simple exercises, writing , reading , writing a diary or even ablog is a tremendous help. It activates the brain . Indeed anyform of healthy activity is a great help . I do not allow myself to feel foggy ,of course I forget names ...so what accept it ! The worst thing is to dwell on such matters and blaim it on a chemo brain. I had grade 3 breast cancer but I am determined to be active both in mind and body .
Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:18 PM
tweet91 & I have apparently traveled pretty much the same path since 2006! Chemobrain is REAL! I finally accepted the changes as permanent & took an early retirement last year. My 66 year old husband must now teach until I am old enough for medicare. I spend my days reading, bicycling, learning to paint, and volunteering at the local senior center. We survive on less money, and make jokes about my "senior/chemo moments". Life is good.
Thu Dec 20, 2012 03:39 AM
i have been out of chemo A/c and taxol for 7 months ow and today i was cleaning out my purse and put my credit cards in the trash with the papers and other things i was throwing away from the inside of my handbag. i could have sworn i put the cards in my habdbag and it turned out i didn't. I have trouble remembering words while conversing and forget the name of the friend i was having lunch with last week. I play Words with friends to try to help my memory and i really hope it helps me. i also have a lot of bone pain.
Thu Dec 20, 2012 03:42 AM
I have been out of chemo A/c and taxol for 7 months now and today i was cleaning out my purse and put my credit cards in the trash with the papers and other things i was throwing away from the inside of my handbag. I could have sworn i put the cards in my handbag and it turned out i didn't. I have trouble remembering words while conversing and forget the name of the friend i was having lunch with last week. I play Words with fFiends to try to help my memory and i really hope it helps me.
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