Symptoms and Suggested Causes of Chemo Brain

Following cancer treatment, some individuals notice changes in their memory, concentration and how they think. Women with breast cancer were the first ones to report these complications, which they associated with their chemotherapy treatment. So they referred to the changes chemo brain (others use the term chemo fog). It isn’t apparent what exactly causes these memory and concentration changes in people with cancer. Therefore calling them chemo brain might not be correct. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a more accurate description used by doctors. Another name is cognitive dysfunction. Many people use the word cognitive or cognition in different ways. It basically means thinking. In psychology, it means how you process information or comprehend the world and how it works. Most individuals who have cognitive changes can manage everyday things. However they may recognize they are not able to do some things as well as before they had cancer. Symptoms may include
  • Memory loss – forgetting things which you usually remember
  • Difficulty thinking of the correct word for a particular object
  • Difficulties following the flow of a conversation
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing on a single thing
  • Problems doing multiple things at a time (multitasking)
  • More difficulty doing things you used to do easily
  • Fatigue (tiredness and lack of energy)
  • Confusion
  • Mental fogginess
The changes tend to be mild and very subtle. But if you have them they could decrease your quality of life. Health professionals now know that people with different types of cancer could possibly have these complications. So it’s not just breast cancer – and it may not just be chemotherapy that causes the problems.