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. 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.
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.
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."
Discussion at NPR