Disease Information & Support


The Word:


Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause problems with cognitive (mental) functions, such as concentration, memory and the ability to multitask. Most chemotherapy patients experience these effects to some degree. The effects are sometimes referred to as chemobrain or brain fog. Doctors are unable to predict who might be affected.

The cognitive effects of chemotherapy for some are long lasting. A small percentage of patients have long-term effects known as "chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment." The symptoms include a mental fogginess and effects on:

  • memory
  • word retrieval
  • concentration
  • processing numbers
  • following instructions
  • multitasking
  • setting priorities

If you have trouble focusing or trusting your memory, try these tips:

  • Write down reminders to yourself.
  • Place items such as car keys, cell phones and planners in the same place.
  • Allow extra time to accomplish personal and professional activities.
last updated on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

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