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Can Cancer Treatment Affect Your Memory?

Cancer, as well as its treatment, can have negative consequences. Chemo brain is one of them, and many cancer patients have complained about it, chemo brain is also cancer treatment-related cognitive impairment, cancer-related cognitive alteration, or post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment or chemo fog. Unfortunately, chemo brain affects roughly 75% of cancer patients throughout treatment, and over 35% of them may continue to have symptoms after therapy is complete.

What is a chemo brain?

Chemo brain causes a loss in cognitive skills, including difficulties concentrating on tasks or thinking coherently and an inability to recall events or facts that were previously easy to identify. Multiple mental talents, such as learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, decision making, and attention, are a part of cognitive functions.

Difficulties caused by chemo brain:

Listed below are several effects of chemo brain,

  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty in concentrating 
  • Trouble in multitasking
  • Confusion
  • Short attention span
  • Trouble learning new things
  • Taking longer than usual to complete routine tasks

Contrary to its name, “chemo brain” is connected with various treatment modalities, including radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and even cancer itself.

What are the ways in which cancer treatment affects the brain?

Chemo brain’s actual cause is unknown and researchers are trying to figure out how cancer or its treatment can cause chemo brain moreover, a variety of factors can cause chemo brain. Problems with thinking and remembering can arise as a result of the emotional turmoil that comes with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Cancers that start in the brain or spread there can directly impact brain function, leading to chemo brain. Cancer cells may secrete substances that interfere with brain cell activity. Cancer and its treatment can cause a variety of health problems, such as anaemia, infection, and sleep disturbances, all of which can contribute to chemo brain.

Ways in which patients can cope with chemo brain

There are a number of general steps that the patients can take on their own in order to cope with the effects of chemotherapy. Some steps are,

Engaging in physical activities

Chemo brain’s actual cause is unknown. Researchers are trying to figure out how cancer or its treatment can cause chemo brain moreover, a variety of factors can cause chemo brain.

According to research, exercise increases blood flow to two important memory-related brain areas, lowering memory problems and improving cognition. The chemo brain can cause stress, despair, and weariness, which can be managed with exercise. Gardening, pet care, and walking are all activities that might help you focus and pay attention.

Getting enough sleep

The exact cause of chemo brain is uncertain. According to researchers, the chemo brain is a condition that can be caused by cancer or its treatment. A number of things can bring on Chemo brain.

Exercise enhances blood flow to two crucial memory-related brain areas, lessening memory issues and enhancing cognition, according to studies. Chemo brain can lead to feelings of worry, despair, and exhaustion, which can be alleviated by exercise. Gardening, caring for pets, and going for a stroll are all activities that might help you concentrate and pay attention.

Ensuring sufficient nutrition intake

Nutrition is critical for general health and even mental performance. More fruits and vegetables in your diet have been linked to increased cognitive power in studies. Fruits and vegetables are highly antioxidants, which can help reduce cancer-related brain cell damage and avoid adverse cognitive effects.

Multivitamin supplementation, when taken as directed by a doctor, can also aid in the restoration of brain function. Keeping a food journal can help track your eating habits and improve your adherence to a healthy diet.

Creating a schedule for the day

Make daily habits and stick to the—plan to do the most challenging chores when your energy levels peak.

Making a note of appointments and timetables may make it easier for some people to keep track of them. Make a note of where you’ve kept essential items as well. To make it easier to locate frequently used objects (such as a phone or keys), designate a location for them and place them there every time.

Concentrate on one task at a time and avoid multitasking. To handle your everyday duties and save mental energy, enlist the support of friends or loved ones.

Seeking medical help

If you believe that your chemo brain memory loss is making daily life difficult, you may require professional assistance. The professional could suggest techniques to better manage or deal with the cognitive difficulties. They might be able to assist you in comprehending how the brain works and recommend new approaches to learning and doing new activities. They might also suggest tools like planners or diaries to help you keep organised and manage the side effects of chemo brain.

Additionally, keeping track of memory issues and noting when they become apparent might help you be prepare. This also aids in the avoidance of critical chores being planned at such times. These records will also assist your doctor in gaining a better understanding of your situation. Furthermore, avoid focusing on how such symptoms affect you. Distracting yourself and embracing the problem, on the other hand, will help you cope with it more effectively.

Concentrate on one task at a time and avoid multitasking. To handle your everyday duties and save mental energy, enlist the support of friends or loved ones.

How long does chemo brain last?

It’s comforting to hear that chemo brain symptoms may improve over time. Each patient, however, is unique and responds to treatment in a unique way. Chemo brain symptoms usually go away within 9 to 12 months after treatment. However, roughly 20% of cancer survivors experience long-term cognitive impairment.

Scientists are constantly researching new treatment options in the hopes of preventing cognitive decline and restoring normal brain function. Patients may be able to overcome chemo brain and enhance their quality of life with these treatments.

Expert Guidance from Cancer Coach

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