Some of the most common symptoms experienced by cancer patients are memory problems, difficulties with multitasking, and reduced attention and concentration. Historically, cancer patients with these symptoms were often diagnosed with depression. Research over the past decade has revealed that many cancer patients experience such symptoms as a consequence of specific damage to the brain caused by either their tumor or their treatment.
This six-week psycho-educational program helps patients cope with the effects of "chemo brain," which may include:
- Finding or remembering words
Measuring the Impact of a Psycho-education Program on Perceived Cognition After Breast Cancer Treatment (Haze)
Sometimes people with cancer worry about, joke about, or become frustrated by what they describe as mental cloudiness or changes they might notice before, during, and after cancer treatment. This cloudiness or mental change is commonly referred to as chemo brain. Doctors and researchers may call chemo brain many things, such as cancer treatment-related cognitive impairment, cancer-related cognitive change, or post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment. The word "cognitive" refers to the way your brain works to help you communicate, think, learn, solve problems, and remember.
You’re back at work after cancer treatment — or maybe you’re nearly done with treatment and working part-time. Either way, you’re likely eager to get back to “normal.” But if you’ve had chemotherapy (or even if you haven’t), you may notice your concentration, memory or other work skills aren’t quite up to par. This mental fog isn’t your imagination. It’s called “chemo brain.” Experts actually prefer the term “cognitive dysfunction associated with chemotherapy” or “post-chemo brain,” to more accurately describe it.
This study aimed to explore the long-term lived experience of chemobrain. Interpretative phenomenological analysis allowed an in-depth investigation of 12 breast cancer survivors suffering from perceived cognitive deficits at least 1-year post-treatment.
As a fourth-grade teacher, Justin Birckbichler, 26, was accustomed to asking his students to remember facts and ideas they had learned. But while undergoing chemotherapy to treat testicular cancer that was diagnosed in 2016, Birckbichler noticed that it was he who was having difficulty recalling information.
“I would compare it with attention deficit disorder or a general feeling of fogginess,” recalls Birckbichler, who writes a blog about his cancer experiences for curetoday.com.