MONDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have homed in on which parts of the brain seem to be involved in "chemo brain," the memory problems and other impairments that often accompany chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer.
According to research in the November issue of the Archives of Neurology, those areas of the brain that are involved in planning, attention and memory performance were less robust in breast cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy than in breast cancer patients who had not had chemotherapy or in healthy women who acted as study controls.
The findings are important not only to find ways to manage this side effect, but also to give credibility to women who report these effects and aren't taken seriously, said the authors of the report and another expert.
"There's been a controversy whether it's the disease itself or hormonal blockade medications or chemotherapy," said study lead author Shelli Kesler.
"A lot of women complain of problems but then perform in the normal range on subjective tests," explained Michelle Janelsins, a research assistant professor of radiation oncology at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in Rochester, N.Y.
"This is going to give us more information about what exactly is going on so that we can develop better management approaches," said Janelsins, who was not involved with the study.
According to the study authors, chemo brain is the most commonly reported neurological and cognitive problem among breast cancer patients who have received chemotherapy for their condition.
Janelsins said that much research has been devoted to chemo brain but, as of yet, few ways to actually alleviate it.
The researchers compared results from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) done on 25 women with breast cancer who had received chemother
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