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Some chemotherapy drugs can affect the way the brain functions, so a small number of people will notice problems with memory and concentration. Sometimes this is called “chemo-brain” or “mental fatigue.”
It is unknown exactly how chemotherapy affects the brain, so it is not clear if chemotherapy directly causes these problems. Other factors may also play a role in cognitive changes, such as:
Changes in memory and concentration can be very subtle and mild. Some people:
These effects can go away after chemotherapy is finished or may last up to a year after treatment is over. Sometimes these effects occur long after treatment is finished.
The healthcare team can suggest ways to help improve concentration and manage changes in memory. Mild cognitive problems tend to respond well to rehabilitation efforts, such as cognitive retraining techniques and exercises.
To cope with changes to memory and concentration, you can try the following:
Volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society opened my eyes to just how much work they do for people fighting cancer.
For cancer patients who must travel a great distance to get to treatment, Canadian Cancer Society lodges offer a welcoming place to stay.