'Chemo brain' subject of new research

November 28, 2012 2:22:46 PM PST
Many patients undergoing chemotherapy describe being in a mental fog and having trouble with memory after treatment. Scientists looked at the brain scans of 128 patients who had undergone chemo for breast cancer.

They compared brain metabolism before and after treatment.

By using PET-CT scanning researchers were able to witness how chemotherapy affects changes in brain function over time. They could see less energy being used in areas of the brain involved in planning and prioritizing.

"This research suggests that just having the people supporting you assist in certain activities -- having lists, making plans -- what needs to be done is very helpful because those are the areas of the brain that are being affected in chemo brain," said West Virginia University School of Medicine Dr. Rachel Lagos.

This mental fog can last a short time or it could go on for years.

Researchers stress chemotherapy is a lifesaver and they want to continue this research to find ways to minimize side effects.


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