MILWAUKEE -- It's sort of like walking around in a fog. That's how cancer patients describe "chemo brain." Dr. David Sabsevitz and Su Rablin joined the Studio A team to tell you more about it.
• Chemo brain refers to the changes in thinking that occur following chemotherapy treatment.
• Patients often describe it as being in a 'fog' and complain of day-to-day memory problems, problems focusing and multi-tasking, slow thinking, and problems finding words when talking.
• The rates of chemo brain, at least in the breast cancer literature, range from 15 to 35% with some studies reported even higher rates.
• Fortunately, the severity of these symptoms are often very mild and improve over time.
• The exact cause of chemo brain is not fully understood.
• We know there are factors that can cause cognitive changes in cancer patients that are not directly related to the chemo such as: changes in mood and stress and disruption in one`s normal roles that can develop following a cancer diagnosis, fatigue and feeling worn out, sleep issues, hormonal changes, medication effects.
• There is evidence that about 1/3 of breast cancer patients show some signs of cognitive change even prior to undergoing chemo, suggesting that perhaps the cancer itself can affect brain functioning.