Apr 29, 2007
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Good NYT article today on how Chemotherapy Fog Is No Longer Ignored as Illusion. Quotes:
- “Virtually all cancer survivors who have had toxic treatments like chemotherapy experience short-term memory loss and difficulty concentrating during and shortly afterward, experts say. But a vast majority improve. About 15 percent, or roughly 360,000 of the nation’s 2.4 million female breast cancer survivors, the group that has dominated research on cognitive side effects, remain distracted years later, according to some experts. And nobody knows what distinguishes this 15 percent.”
- “The central puzzle of chemo brain is that many of the symptoms can occur for reasons other than chemotherapy.”
- “Abrupt menopause, which often follows treatment, also leaves many women fuzzy-headed in a more extreme way than natural menopause, which unfolds slowly. Those cognitive issues are also features of depression and anxiety, which often accompany a cancer diagnosis. Similar effects are also caused by medications for nausea and pain.”
There are at least a couple cognitive neuroscience teams in the US and Israel developing computer-based cognitive training programs that can be helpful for this population. We will keep you informed as we see good results and tools.
- The study results showed that those treated with chemotherapy scored significantly lower on standardized tests measuring mental and psychological functions than those who had only local therapy. The chemotherapy patients’ scores were lower on average whether or not patients reported having depression, anxiety or fatigue, which can also reduce mental function.