DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Chemo brain is a common term used by cancer survivors to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment. Chemo brain can also be called chemo fog, chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment or cognitive dysfunction.
Though chemo brain is a widely used term, it's misleading. It's unlikely that chemotherapy is the sole cause of concentration and memory problems in cancer survivors.
Despite the many questions, it's clear that the memory problems commonly called chemo brain can be a frustrating and debilitating side effect of cancer and its treatment. More study is needed to understand this condition.
- Asher A. Cognitive dysfunction among cancer survivors. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2011;90(suppl):S16.
- Phillips KM, et al. Cognitive functioning after cancer treatment. Cancer. 2012;118:1925.
- Myers JS. Chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment: The breast cancer experience. Oncology Nursing Forum. 2012;39:E31.
- Fardell JE, et al. Chemotherapy and cognitive impairment: Treatment options. Nature Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2011;90:366.
- Improving your concentration: Three key steps. CancerCare. http://www.cancercare.org/publications/71-improving_your_concentration_three_key_steps. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- Combating chemobrain: Keeping your memory sharp. CancerCare. http://www.cancercare.org/publications/70-combating_chemobrain_keeping_your_memory_sharp. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- Cognitive problems. Cancer.Net. http://www.cancer.net/all-about-cancer/treating-cancer/managing-side-effects/cognitive-problems. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- Ginkgo. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.
- Vitamin E. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.
- DeVita VT Jr, et al. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008:2751.
- Ganz PA. Cancer Survivorship: Today and Tomorrow. New York, N.Y.: Springer; 2007:59.
- Feuerstein M. Handbook of Cancer Survivorship. New York, N.Y.: Springer; 2007:287.
- Chang G, et al. Mental status changes after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Cancer. 2009;115:4625.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 5, 2013.