Chemo Brain in Cancer Patients: What Is It and How Can It Be Managed?

Chemo Brain in Cancer Patients: What Is It and How Can It Be Managed?

June 24, 2019

Many patients complain of "chemo brain," or a drop in cognitive function during or after receiving chemotherapy, but there are strategies to manage chemo brain, as well as research on how chemotherapy affects the brain long-term.

“Chemo brain” is a side effect of chemotherapy that affects cognitive function in cancer patients. Also known as cancer treatment–related cognitive impairment, it is often described as a decrease in mental “sharpness” before, during, and after cancer treatment, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The length of these effects, as well as their severity, vary. Although there is no test to diagnose the condition, nor specific treatment, some medications and coping strategies have been shown to be helpful in some patients. This slideshow discusses several strategies to manage chemo brain, as well as research on how chemotherapy affects the brain long-term.