The Impact Of Cancer Treatment
What causes chemo brain? Researchers have struggled with measuring the phenomenon using tests designed to measure for and assess the damage done by diseases like Alzheimer’s or other cognitive dysfunctions like traumatic brain injury, making it hard to understand exactly what is causing the phenomenon.
Some physicians believe that the stress of regular cancer treatments can result in neurological symptoms that mimic those of acute depression and anxiety – difficulty focusing, a sense of apathy that makes completing tasks more difficult, etc(3).
Others have wondered if chemo itself is a neurotoxin causing unmeasured damage to the brain(4).
The lack of understanding about what contributes to “chemo brain” has led to much fear surrounding conventional methods of cancer treatment – even, some doctors fear, leading people to forgo therapies that may be effective treatments for their diseases(5).
Kristin Campbell, an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and leader of the research team, says these findings could help health care providers measure the effects of chemotherapy on the brain.
“Physicians now recognize that the effects of cancer treatment persist long after it’s over and these effects can really impact a person’s life,” said Campbell.
But regardless of the cause, many cancer survivors are now breathing sighs of relief that science has confirmed what they have been saying for some time – that “chemo brain” is a real symptom, and not just in their heads.