12 Ways to Cope With "Chemo Brain"
Chemo brain: frustrating but real
The chemicals used in chemotherapy are powerful -- strong enough to kill cancer cells. That's a good thing, but they also seem to have a little-understood effect on the brain, causing cognitive problems such as memory lapses and loss of concentration.
While it's tempting to think that these problems are all in the patient's mind, they're all too real, experts say. In fact, a study at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that more than 80 percent of people who receive chemotherapy for cancer report annoying memory and concentration problems that often linger for months, even after treatment is finished.
"This is one of the things cancer patients get most frustrated about, because it makes them feel like they're not themselves," says Gloria Nelson, a senior oncology social worker at Montefiore-Einstein Cancer Center in New York City. "They used to see themselves as competent and capable, and now they keep losing things or can't finish a book because they can't remember the page they just read."