What is “chemo brain?”
Chemo brain is a term that often describes the cognitive challenges that you may experience after receiving cancer treatment. These cognitive challenges may include difficulties with short-term memory, an inability to concentrate or trouble focusing, challenges with executive function, trouble with learning new things, and difficulties when working with numbers. If you are experiencing any of these challenges you should talk with your health care team.
Scientific research on the causes, prevention, and treatment of chemo brain are limited. However, some recent studies have shown that people can experience cognitive challenges, not only when receiving chemotherapy treatment, but also when receiving radiation or endocrine therapy.
Various studies have shown that up to 60% of patients experience cognitive problems post-treatment. There are also 20-25% of people who have cognitive impairments prior to treatment. Some of the predictors of whether or not someone will experience chemo brain include: age; genetics; and cognitive reserve before you start treatment (e.g., IQ, education, occupation, hobbies, etc.).