Wednesday 16 May 2018
Susan Long â€“ Maggie's
You may be finding that your memory and ability to concentrate has been affected since having treatment for cancer. People often call this experience 'chemo fog' or 'chemo brain'.
Here is information to help you to find out more about 'chemo brain' and how to manage it.
Some people notice that they are more forgetful or have trouble concentrating or making decisions after treatment for cancer.
Symptoms may include:
Although commonly called chemo brain, this can occur after different types of treatment for cancer. Recent research has shown that it may result more from the stress of diagnosis and treatment than the treatment itself.
'Cognition' is the term for the act of thinking processing and reasoning thinking. The medical terminology for chemo brain refers to mild cognitive dysfunction or impairment
Alongside stress, fluctuating hormone levels and some medication taken during treatment can directly affect your thinking and make you feel sluggish. Other causes can be being dehydrated, sleep deprived, poor nutrition, depression, or fatigue (tiredness).
For most people this mental fogginess wears off soon after treatment. Some people find it lingers for months afterward. In a few cases the fogginess can be permanent.
There is no specific treatment for chemo brain. However, there are other side effects from treatment that can add to its symptoms, and they can be treated. Side effects adding to 'chemo brain' symptoms include anaemia, hormone changes, insomnia (difficulty sleeping), depression and stress.
For most people experiencing problems with memory and concentration will be temporary and you will be able to manage using the strategies above.
If youâ€™re finding that the fogginess is causing you anxiety, affecting your ability to carry out essential tasks or continued for longer than expected, then do let your healthcare team know. Speaking with your GP, hospital doctor, specialist nurse can help.
Call into your local ¾ÞÈéÎÞÂë centre. You can discuss your symptoms and find out more about support available for you.
Find your local Maggieâ€™s centre. Drop in to learn more about the support during and after treatment that can help you.
Have a look at our blogs and links on this page to find out more about coping with problems with memory and concentration during and after treatment for cancer.
Talk with others about what you are experiencing. It can help to hear that what youâ€™re feeling is not unusual, and help you to feel less alone.
Last review: Dec 2021 | Next review: Dec 2022
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