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Can Talk Therapy Help Chemo Memory Problems

Posted 5/5/2016

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  This is an encouraging report. Instead of being one more study that indicates that some people do experience cognitive issues during and after treatment (aka chemobrain), a new study from the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor suggests something that can help.

  Here is a personal aside: when we drive to our little Maine cottage, we drive right by Eastern Maine Medical Center. Seeing those buildings means that we are getting close, and I have a regular rush of delight. It is my fantasy that people who live nearby may be regularly exposed to all those good Maine vibes, and that my help too. Perhaps they need a few more of us to spend prolonged time there to test out this theory.

  Moving right along: researchers compared women post breast cancer chemotherapy who had CBT therapy with others who had regular talk therapy (whatever that means).Those who received some CBT training did better. CBT is a recognized and straightforward method in which the therapist and the patient work together to solve current problems and minimize future difficulties by recognizing and changing established negative thought and behavior patterns. For example, if you often experience road rage and become furious with nearby drivers, you instead train yourself to think something like: "we are all stuck in this traffic together, and I will concentrate on driving safely home."

  Here is a summary from Health Day about this study. I give you the start and a link to read more:

Could Talk Therapy Ease Chemo-Related Memory Issues?
Researchers suggest their approach could improve survivors' quality of life

MONDAY, May 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A type of psychotherapy might help cancer survivors deal with the long-term thinking problems some experience after chemotherapy, researchers say.

It's estimated that about half of those who undergo chemotherapy for cancer develop what's often called "chemo brain." For instance, they may have trouble following conversations or remembering the steps in a project, according to background notes with the new study.

Although usually mild, these changes can affect quality of life, job performance and relationships, said the researchers from the Eastern Maine Medical Center and Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Bangor, Maine.

The researchers developed a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) program called Memory and Attention Adaptation Training to help cancer survivors prevent or manage these memory problems.

Their study involved 47 breast cancer survivors who underwent chemotherapy an average of four years earlier. Some were assigned to receive eight CBT sessions that lasted about 30 to 45 minutes each.


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