“Chemo brain” may last 5 years or longer, study reports

4 May

The New York Times’  Tara Parker-Pope reports today on a new study from the The Journal of Clinical Oncology that could provide validation to many cancer survivors suffering from the thinking and memory problems that doctors often dismiss as normal signs of aging.

The new study suggests that the cognitive losses associated with cancer treatment (a.k.a. “chemo brain”) are far more pronounced and longer-lasting than previously thought.

“It’s clearly established now that chemo brain does exist and can continue long-term,” said Karen L. Syrjala, co-director of the Survivorship Program at Fred Hutchinson and the study’s lead author. “The real issue here is that recovery from cancer treatment is not a one-year process but a two- to five-year process. People need to understand the extent to which the cells in their bodies have really been compromised by not only the cancer, but also the treatment.

“The first step is to set realistic expectations for people,” said Dr. Syrjala. “It’s not just patients, but their families and employers who need to realize that their brains aren’t processing as rapidly.”

Source: “Chemo Fog May Last 5 Years of More” (nytimes.com)

Related: Chemo Brain & The Americans with Disabilities Act (fightcolorectalcancer.org)


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