Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chemo Brain: Cognitive Effects of Chemotherapy

"The systems of the body most affected by chemotherapy drugs include visual and semantic memory, attention and motor coordination.[6] These effects can impair a chemotherapy patient's ability to understand and make decision regarding treatment, perform in school or employment and reduce quality of life.[6]
Breast cancer survivors who were treated with chemotherapy have to work harder to perform tasks than survivors whose treatment was surgical. A year after treatment the brains of cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy had physically shrunk while those of people not treated with chemotherapy had not.[7]
Post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment comes as a surprise to many cancer survivors. Often, survivors think their lives will return to normal when the cancer is gone, only to find that the lingering effects of post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment impede their efforts. Working, connecting with loved ones, carrying out day-to-day tasks—all can be very challenging for an impaired brain. Although post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment appears to be temporary, it can be quite long-lived, with some cases lasting 10 years or more.[8]"
Discussion at NPR