For those suffering with cancer, there are a number of side effects caused by treatment methods, but one of these effects, known as ‘Chemo Brain,’ is still considered to be somewhat of a myth. However, cancer patients will tell you that it is a very real concern, characterized by short or long-term loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and an inability to do more than one thing at a time. Mesothelioma and Chemo Brain often go hand-in-hand, but patients with a number of different cancers – not just brain tumors – report Chemo Brain symptoms.
Cancer doctors do not know the exact cause of Chemo Brain, but the American Cancer Society reports that it is often a result of radiation therapy, although some cancer patients who have not undergone radiation do report suffering from Chemo Brain symptoms. In some cases, the location of a patient’s tumor will cause Chemo Brain. Additional factors include a patient’s age, the medicine they may be taking, their level of stress, or the presence of infection. Chemo Brain may be caused by more than one factor, according to oncologists, and some patients with cancer never experience the condition at all.
Unlike some other types of memory loss, Chemo Brain generally goes away once a patient’s treatment has ended. For some patients with mesothelioma cancer, and others, the symptoms of Chemo Brain – including varying levels of memory loss – may linger after treatment has stopped. It is important that cancer patients report memory loss and other symptoms of this condition to their treatment team immediately.
For the as many as 70% of patients who report Chemo Brain symptoms, managing the memory loss and other issues that go along with this condition is fairly simple. Easy things, such as keeping a daily planner to record the day’s appointments and medication reminders, can make a big difference to patients with Chemo Brain. Maintaining a diet full of veggies – which have been linked to a healthy brain and better brain function – is also recommended. Following a routine is also helpful for Chemo Brain sufferers. It’s important to get your treatment team on board with your routine, and posting a daily and weekly routine on the wall in a patient’s hospital room is a good idea. Patients who report Chemo Brain symptoms may also benefit from daily ‘brain exercise,’ such as crossword puzzles, trivia flashcards or Sudoku puzzles, to keep their brain sharp.
There is no cure for Chemo Brain, but prescribing medications used to treat other conditions like Alzheimer’s or ADD may be the future of Chemo Brain treatment.
To learn more about Chemo Brain and other side effects of cancer treatment, visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance at Mesothelioma.com.
Contact: Jennifer Miller