Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Memory & Concentration

Many survivors experience memory and concentration issues during the course of treatment and beyond. This is sometimes referred to as "chemo brain" or "chemo fog". Chemo brain can be caused for many different reasons and research hasn't quite fully understood the condition.

Symptoms of "chemo brain":

  • Mild forgetfulness
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Difficulty remembering important dates, names, phone numbers etc.
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Diffifulty remembering common words

Causes: 

  • Cancer treatments and therapies such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and more.
  • Complications that may arise from the aforementioned treatments: anemia, fatigue, infections and sleep problems.
  • Other medical conditions such as depression, anxiety and lack of sound nutrition.

Tips for Managing Chemo-Brain

  • Use calendars and write down important notes and dates
  • Ensure that you're getting adequate rest
  • Set yourself up for repeat reminders whenever possible.
  • Exercise your brain. The American Cancer Society recommends signing up for classes, taking up a new language, or practicing simple memory games or word puzzles.
  • Try to follow routines when possible.
  • Give yourself extra time to accomplish tasks or commute to places.
  • Let someone know what you're going through and seek support groups for additional comfort from individuals that are experiencing what you may be going through.

If you are experiencing chemo brain, it's important to speak to your provider to assess the potential cause of it and determine effective strategies or treatments to combat it. Cedars-Sinai medical center states that for most patients, the effects resolve within 6-9 months after they finish treatment. For others, the symptoms could last years.


References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chemo-brain/symptoms-causes/syc-20351060#:~:text=Chemo%20brain%20is%20a%20common,cognitive%20impairment%20or%20cognitive%20dysfunction.

https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/chemo-brain.html

https://www.cityofhope.org/patients/living-with-cancer/dealing-with-cancer-side-effects/cognitive-function

Last Updated: 10/30/2020 9:40:15 AM

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