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Description: Have you heard the term “Chemobrain”? While it has been around for quite a while it has been coming up more frequently lately as a concern for those undergoing cancer treatments using chemotherapy as at least 50% of them currently will experience some of the aspects of cognitive imparement associated with Chemobrain and for some of them the effects will not go away after treatment is complete. While getting rid of cancer is a prized goal people living with ongoing cognitive issues or with memory issue or fatigue may understandably like to hear that work is going on the try and better understand Chemobrain and, one hopes, to work on ways to lessen or eliminate it from treatment. Read through the article link to see what myelinization or neurons in the brain has to do with Chemobrain.

Source: Chemobrain: The impact of chemotherapy on Cognition, Elanena Blanco-Suarez, Brain Chemistry, Psychology Today

Date: January 23, 2019

Photo Credit: Cisplatin crystals. Larry Ostby, photo released by the National Cancer Institute, an agency of the National Institutes of Health.

Article Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/brain-chemistry/201901/chemobrain-the-impact-chemotherapy-cognition

The account of the brain level factors associated with Chemobrain in the article linked above might have been a bit hard to get your brain around if you have not had at least part of a psychology course with a neuroscience focus. Regardless you can see some of the points of brain influence that are being looked at as we try to develop a better understanding of what is involved in Chemobrain and, one hopes, begin to develop ways not mitigate it, avoid it or treat it.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is chemobrain?
  2. Why has there only recently been a concerted focus on chemobrain, what causes it and what might mitigate its impacts?
  3. When and how should the issue of chemobrain be discussed with patients about to begin chemotherapy for cancer?

References (Read Further):

Gibson, E. M., Nagaraja, S., Ocampo, A., Tam, L. T., Wood, L. S., Pallegar, P. N., … & Woo, P. J. (2018). Methotrexate Chemotherapy Induces Persistent Tri-glial Dysregulation that Underlies Chemotherapy-Related Cognitive Impairment. Cell.

Boykoff, N., Moieni, M., & Subramanian, S. K. (2009). Confronting chemobrain: an in-depth look at survivors’ reports of impact on work, social networks, and health care response. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 3(4), 223. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11764-009-0098-x

Simó, M., Rifà-Ros, X., Rodriguez-Fornells, A., & Bruna, J. (2013). Chemobrain: a systematic review of structural and functional neuroimaging studies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(8), 1311-1321. http://www.brainvitge.org/papers/Simo_chemobrain_review_2013.pdf

Argyriou, A. A., Assimakopoulos, K., Iconomou, G., Giannakopoulou, F., & Kalofonos, H. P. (2011). Either called “chemobrain” or “chemofog,” the long-term chemotherapy-induced cognitive decline in cancer survivors is real. Journal of pain and symptom management, 41(1), 126-139. https://www.jpsmjournal.com/article/S0885-3924(10)00535-X/fulltext

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