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Chemotherapy and ChemoBrain and Multi Tasking

Posted 5/30/2014

Posted in

  This study reported at ASCO brings a very big smack-on-the-forehead and "DUH" response from all of us. We already knew this, thank you. It is, however, helpful to have data and research to support the experience that almost all of us have had: some diminishment of cognitive acuity during chemotherapy.

  It does, for almost everyone, get better after treatment ends, but it surely is frustrating while it lasts. I am amused, too, that this study identifies multi-tasking as especially difficult for women, as opposed to men, on chemo--and then makes the obvious statement that perhaps this is because women are more likely to multi-task. Another DUH response. How many of us have fed a baby, stirred a pot, kept an eye on an older child, and carried on a phone conversation about work simultaneously?

  What is new and fascinating is the discovery of brain changes, presumably from chemo, that may explain the problem.

  Reported in Consumer Health Day, this summarizes the study from City Of Hope in California. Here is the start and then a link to read more:

Memory Problems After Chemo Linked to Brain Changes
Study finds drop in brain activity during multitasking in women who had chemotherapy for breast cancer

By Kathleen Doheny

Breast cancer survivors who had chemotherapy show changes in brain activity during multitasking chores, according to a new Belgian study.

These findings may partly explain the phenomenon dubbed "chemo brain." For years, people who've had chemotherapy have reported changes in thinking and memory, especially when doing more than one thing at once.

"Before you can fix a problem, you need to know what the problem is. And this study demonstrates what the problem may be. It's a really good first step to understanding the what. Now we need to understand the why and how to fix it," said Dr. Courtney Vito, a breast surgeon and assistant clinical professor of surgical oncology at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. Vito was not involved in the current study, but reviewed the study's findings.


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