'Chemo Brain' Is a Big Problem, According to Breast Cancer Patients
Cancer treatments can be demanding on both the body and the mind, and every individual who undergoes chemotherapy is presented with a unique set of challenges to overcome. Among these is a common phenomenon not widely understood or reported, a side effect referred to as “chemo brain.”
Treatment of cancer is not an easy thing; it is quite demanding both for the mind and the body of the patient. A person who undergoes chemotherapy has to face a number of challenges every day. A common but still not widely understood side effect of this therapy is “Chemo Brain.” What is chemo brain? Essentially, it is a term used by patients as well as doctors and healthcare providers to refer to a state of mental fogginess, an inability to focus, and a lack of mental sharpness. These kinds of mental blocks are something that can occur at any point in time, either before, during, or after the cancer treatment. Many a times, a patient does not realize there has been a change in their state of mind until it has begun to disturb their daily routine and activities. For this reason, it has become very difficult to perform research on or even to identify chemo brain as part of a trend. Due to the limited number of studies done by researchers in this field, there are many questions left unanswered, such as why exactly chemo brain occurs in the first place, who is at an increased risk of getting it, and who is not.
Several teams of researchers, after carrying out their surveys, tried to find the potential factors that led to an influence on the mental health of cancer patients, and they found that these factors are: the age of the individual; what race they are; their level of education; and, in the case of females, whether or not the woman had reached the stage of menopause or had passed it. The FACT-COG is broken into four major sections, and they are: comments from others; perceived cognitive impairment; a certain kind of impact on the individual’s quality of life; and perceived cognitive abilities. Each of these sections has a list of statements that are varied in nature. According to the results of the study, the team of researchers analyzed the data and found they had observed a decline in the FACT-COG score by 45 percent. This score was determined with the help of carrying out surveys before as well as after the treatment. The whole research spanned a one-year period, wherein it began before the chemotherapy was started and went up to the six months’ span after the completion of the therapy.
This survey study had also found a link to chemo brain in those patients who had started to show signs of anxiety as well as depression before the start of the therapy. It was determined that these individuals were very likely to be affected by the sessions of chemotherapy. There was also a cognitive decline seen in those patients who were black or those who were on the younger side. Such studies can lead to preventative measures in fighting against this cognitive change.