Whole Brain Radiation and Memory Loss

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Whole Brain Radiation and Memory Loss

by Barbaradawn on Tue Mar 22, 2005 12:00 AM

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My 'significant other" received 15 treatments of whole brain radiation back in December for brain mets from lung cancer. (The lung cancer had been previously treated with radiation and chemo in Sept/Oct 2004) Now he is beginning to show some significant and scary short term memory loss. My question is - is short term memory loss from WBR a permanent condition? His doctors all imply that it is, but I have run across a handful of posts on various forums that imply it will get better after a few weeks or months. Either way we will cope somehow, but it would be a comfort to know if there might be a chance it will get better with time. I would be grateful to hear how others have coped with this experience as well.

Whole Brain Radiation

by Deb1962 on Sun Apr 24, 2005 12:00 AM

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Hi...My mother had WBR in May-June 2004 after brain mets surgery...she too had a met from lung cancer that was treated with surgery, chemo, and radiation in 2000 so, she had 4 years before reoccurence(lucky from all I have read). She had quite a few months of short term memory loss and bad side effects from steroids-so bad she couldn't move after taking care of herself just after the surgery. I am not sure how much was caused by WBR or swelling which may have come back after she was taken off steroids. She has since had a reoccurence in her spine. Before the spine surgery, her memory had gotten better but, it is now progressively getting worse. Hard to tell if the cause is swelling from surgery, WBR, or reoccurences of cacner.She can't have any more radiation and prognosis is < 6 months. Trying to figure out what causes symptoms is difficult. Don't know if your significant other has had a recent brain scan. If not, you may want to query his doctor and advise of progression of symptoms. Looks like WBR does have significant problems in this area. I have been reading quite a bit on this and seems like the WBR is a treatment designed to slow down the growth of cells they believe are likely present in the brain after a mets is found and treated. My mom's brain met was found quickly only because she started having serious walking problems/nausea and kept going to the doctor. All this is also impacted by how many brain mets were found. Probably not much help but, you are not alone in trying to figure this all out. Cancer follows a mysterious, unpredictable path.

Whole Brain Radiation and Memory Loss

by Deanna on Sat Apr 30, 2005 12:00 AM

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My mother was diagnosed with brain mets from lung cancer this past november 2004.She only had headaches. The first thing they did was the WBR, my mother was very bright and had a great personality. After the WBR she changed tremendously so I know how you feel.With time she got a little better but now the tumors are growing back in the brain.Its only been 6 mths since she was diagnosed.She has 6 tumors..maybe more by now. My question is what can I expect to start happening? The doctors won't tell us very much....they say only the lord knows the answer.Any information will be appreciated.

Radiation For Brain Mets-also Steroid Myopathy

by Barbaradawn on Sun May 01, 2005 12:00 AM

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My fiance's mets were discovered after he had completed chemo and radiation for the lung cancer in November 04. They had done a brain scan prior and found his brain was clear then (August 04). But right afterward he began to have shortness of breath a slight unsteadyness in his gait. They ran another scan and discovered three mets. They told us that whole brain radiation was our only option, as he was not a candidate for the more precise stereotactic radiosurgery because 1) he had more than one met and 2) that one was deep in the thalamus and too risky to try to target with intense radiation. They were encouraging though, saying the mets were very small and since the lung cancer had responded so well to radiation, there was no reason to think the brain lesions wouldn't respond too. So - he underwent the WBR I mentioned.. Then after it was over and we asked about reoccurancef, they said he could have no more radiation to this brain, as he had received the maximum safe lifetime dose. Over the next month or so he was very tired and very weak. He had difficulty walking, and one day in January when he fell at home and couldn't get up, I took him to a different hospital much closer to home. There he was found to have an extremely low white count, low blood pressure and fungal pneumonia. We then changed doctors, he was admitted, and soon overcame the pneumonia and low white count. He developed blood clots in his legs and was admitted in February (another story, but he overcame that too and is now on Coumadin. He also developed steroid induced diabetes and must check his blood glucose four times a day and correct it with insulin. When I posted my first note last month he was beginning to show the memory loss we had been warned about, but this was far more severe than what we had been lead to believe. Moreover - he was showing some mental confusion as well. His "new" doctor ran an MRI on his brain, and found that the met in his thalamus had either not been affected by the WBR or had grown back. The other lesions were gone though. They also ran and MRI on his spine to see if something there might be causing his weakness and imbalance but found it clear. This time though, a new radiation oncologist came on board and he said he felt he COULD do the stereotactic technique after all - so my fiance underwent 3 treatments, and within a few days, he started to improve. At this point he's in a wheelchair due to steriod myopathy. We had never been warned of this, but his new oncologist explained that his leg muscles are wasted and weak from being on Decadron too long. He was almost off the drug twice, but the first time when he developed the pneumonia they had to put him back on, and the second time was with the latest brain met. They tell us the only hope to get his legs working again is to taper him off completely but his oncologist is reluctant to do that yet, as the last MRI still shows some edema in the brain and she wants to wait awhile to see if that goes down more. BUT here's the important part - at this point his memory and personality are back to normal! He's really himself again. He's in the wheel chair, but fully functionally mentally. So now the theory is that the edema from the met was causing the memory problems, rather than the WBR. We asked if they could do more stereotactic radiosurgery if more mets cropped up and they said probably - but they could not do that thalamic site again, as it was too close to critical areas and inevitably some healthy brain tissue is destroyed. So we are living day by day and trying to enjoy this beautiful spring. He had been in a nursing home after the last radiation and while he was still confused and forgetful, but I brought him home last week. Live is short enough as it is and as long as he's himself again - we'll cope here at home where he can be with me and his dog and his hobbies. He has enough strength in his legs to move to the shower chair and toilet, and he can get into his recliner, though sometimes he needs help getting up. Some dear friends came and built a wheel chair ramp and deck for him to sit on and watch our bird feeder and his beloved squirrels :-) We hope for the day he can get off the steroids and start walking again and maybe, just maybe the cancer will be gone forever - or just go away for a long time. Like the rest of you, don't know where this journey will lead, but for now each day is a gift. Barbara

Radiation For Brain Mets-also Steroid Myopathy

by Deb1962 on Tue May 03, 2005 12:00 AM

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It is a roller coaster...hope to get off steroids so you can walk or keep the tumor/swelling at bay? Hoping your fiancee's swelling goes down enough so he is able to come off steroids and able to get back his leg strength as my mother did...I have also heard that WBR is the only option for multiple brain mets..good news that the more precise radiation has reduced the mets... My mom went to the new oncologist...we moved her to our home in another state. I thought mentally she did not remember her condition was terminal and that she wasn't well enough for chemo..(bedridden now)...but, somehow, when the important things are being discussed she seems to perk up mentally and she did understand about her condition and wasn't real depressed after the talk with the doctor. This doctor was fairly frank...came right out and told my Mom that chemo in her current state would kill her quicker than no treatment...anyways, doc was all prepped to roll right into hospice which is good but, it was like, we won't do a follow on scan to see if cancer has progressed since surgery and on spine and brain scan showing a little "spot" next to where she had the brain met last year since we aren't going for chemo..I asked could we get the scans to see if the cancer was elsewhere or if possibly my Mom might benefit mentally from steroids if swelling was causing her confusion/memory loss...so, now we have the full range of scans scheduled..I just want to know where the cancer might be now, how it is progressing...bone cancer(spine) as I am reading can cause fragile bones and such so, I want to know when she is paining whether it is for sure a cancer spot, how gingerly to move her, etc...Best wishes...keep in touch...

RE: Whole Brain Radiation and Memory Loss

by oligo on Fri Sep 21, 2012 01:23 PM

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having both short and long term memory loss from radiation and i think it could get worse because cells continue to die after radiation.  i guess it's a trade off for still being alive   good luck

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