Chemo brain causes changes in memory and concentration. It can also affect the ability to think clearly and put thought into action. Some people notice these kinds of changes during and after cancer treatment.
These problems were first noticed by women who had treatment for breast cancer. They had changes in memory and concentration, which they linked to their chemotherapy treatment. This is why it is called ‘chemo brain’ or chemo-fog.
Although it is commonly used, the term ‘chemo brain’ can be misleading. Research shows that changes in memory and concentration can also happen in people with cancer who have never had chemotherapy. Your doctor may call these problems cancer-related cognitive changes (CRCC), mild cognitive impairment or cognitive dysfunction. The word ‘cognitive’ refers to thinking or the way we process information. Impairment or dysfunction means that something isn’t working properly.
It’s not clear which treatments may cause symptoms of chemo brain. Sometimes they may be caused by the cancer itself or by emotions such as anxiety and depression. The effects of chemo brain are usually temporary. But while they last, the symptoms can be frustrating and interfere with your normal activities. They may delay some people from going back to work, school or to social events.