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Chemo Brain- Nothing Forgettable About It

A mental fog referred to as ‘chemo brain’ that chemotherapy patients complain about, is finally getting the attention it deserves. //

Patients especially women have for years informed their doctors about cognitive symptoms such as short-term memory loss, an inability to concentrate, difficulty retrieving words, trouble with multitasking and an overarching sense that they had lost their mental edge. Once brushing such complaints aside, these very people, i.e. health professionals, are beginning to grasp the seriousness of these problems and offer treatments such as drugs used to treat attention deficit disorder and alternative therapies like acupressure.

“Until recently, oncologists would discount it, trivialize it, make patients feel it was all in their heads,” says Dr. Daniel Silverman, a cancer researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies the cognitive side effects of chemotherapy. “Now there’s enough literature, even if it’s controversial, that not mentioning it as a possibility is either ignorant or an evasion of professional duty.”

Almost all persons exposed to life saving measures like chemotherapy report short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating etc., but the majority of them improve after a while. Yet 15 percent of these persons do not, and experts do not know why. These people go on to have typical cognitive symptoms like forgetfulness, distraction etc.

Oncologists suggest chemo brain could be due to very high doses of chemotherapy; like those before a bone marrow transplant, or the combination of chemotherapy and supplementary hormonal treatments, like tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors that lower the amount of estrogen in women who have cancers fueled by female hormones, as well as early-onset cancer that catapults women in their 30s and 40s into menopause.

There are other suggestions got from various studies such as the discovery of a gene linked to Alzheimer’s in such patie
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