July 25, 2024

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Chemo brain is caused by chemotherapy? 

Chemo brain is caused by chemotherapy?


Chemo brain is caused by chemotherapy? Because the symptoms of chemotherapy are different, the treatment plan can also be very personalized.

Earlier, we introduced fatigue, the most common side effect of cancer treatment, and how to manage fatigue caused by cancer. In this article, we will talk about another side effect of cancer treatment-chemotherapy brain.

In the late 1990s, doctors began to pay attention to chemotherapy brain, which is a term used by more and more patients to describe mental symptoms and side effects. Since then, chemo brain has been considered a reasonable and diagnosable state for many cancer patients.

The following content comes from MD Anderson Cancer Center, which has been ranked first in the field of cancer treatment in the United States for many years.


What you need to know about chemotherapy brain caused by cancer:

1. What is chemotherapy brain?

Chemo brain is a term used by patients to describe changes in their thinking or cognitive function. Depending on the individual, “chemo brain” may refer to forgetfulness, delayed thinking, inattention, confusion, or confusion. It is difficult to define the chemotherapy brain precisely, but the usual description is that “my brain cannot work as well as it did before suffering from cancer.”

It is worth noting that chemotherapy brain is not caused by chemotherapy. In fact, cancer patients may have chemotherapy brain before receiving any treatment.



2. What caused the chemotherapy brain?

When researchers studied the cognitive changes of cancer patients, they found that these two groups of patients were different.

In the first group of patients, the cognitive function of brain tumor patients may change due to the location of the brain tumor and the treatment that directly affects the brain tissue.

However, “chemobrain” is often used to refer to the cognitive changes experienced by another group of patients: patients without cancer in their brains. Although “chemo brain” seems to be directly accusing the problem of chemotherapy, it has actually been found that cancer patients may have cognitive problems before receiving any treatment. Even if cancer does not grow in the brain, it can still destroy the system in the body that can ultimately affect mental function. And some treatments, including certain forms of chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy, may also cause cognitive dysfunction, which means that they can directly or indirectly destroy, damage or change normal brain function.



3. Will the chemotherapy brain get better over time?

For many patients, the symptoms of chemotherapy brain will improve over time, although it may not disappear completely. Some people may continue to have symptoms of chemotherapy brain after completing cancer treatment.



4. How is the chemotherapy brain diagnosed?

At MD Anderson, the diagnostic process of chemotherapy brain usually begins with the evaluation of the neuropsychological team. Neuropsychologists will talk to patients and their families to fully understand the symptoms, including the specific circumstances of their improvement or deterioration. In addition, patients will measure their thinking skills through a series of standardized tests.

The assessment will show the strengths and weaknesses of the patient’s thinking skills. Of course, other diseases such as dementia, anxiety, depression or fatigue will also be excluded (or may reveal), which can also affect mental function. Then, the neuropsychologist will work with the patient to develop a treatment plan for symptoms and goals.



5. For chemotherapy brain, what treatment methods are available?

Stimulants or brain training may help some patients. Cognitive strategies or changes in a healthy lifestyle, such as improving sleep quality and exercise, can all help.

Because the symptoms of chemotherapy are different, the treatment plan can also be very personalized.



6. MD Anderson’s 6 Ways to Deal with Chemotherapy Brain

Record your schedule: In daily life, there are many things that need to be done, and the chemotherapy brain may make you forget these. Therefore, record these important dates and important tasks on the calendar and check them regularly.

Rely on friends: When you go to the doctor, ask your friends or family members to accompany you, and ask them to record the content of your discussions with the doctor, because you may need to learn more about these discussions and the doctor’s recommendations for treatment. If a friend or family member cannot accompany him, record the conversation to make sure you don’t miss any important information. Likewise, before going to the doctor, please list any questions or concerns and make sure that nothing is missing.

Exercise your body and brain: moderate exercise a few times a week can help improve memory function. In addition, exercise can help improve the depression and fatigue that accompany chemotherapy for the brain. At the same time, exercise your brain. Playing crossword puzzles, number games, or other activities that stimulate intelligence can improve brain abilities.

Set fixed daily habits and schedules: Follow the same habits and schedules as much as possible, such as putting the keys in the same place every day, and insisting on arranging your life according to the planned time, which will help you stay focused.

Adequate rest: Excessive fatigue can make anyone’s memory bad. Therefore, keep enough sleep and take a break during the day to relax. When time is tight, you are more likely to become absent-minded. Take time every day to stop and relax.

The right diet: eat more vegetables, and a proper balanced diet. Good nutrition is essential to your overall health, including your intelligence. Keep a diet record so you can track your diet.


Sum up:

The above is about the common brain side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients. MD Anderson Cancer Center gave some suggestions, hoping to help patients and friends.


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