New studies are reviving the debate over whether "chemo brain" really exists and doctors in our region say they're not surprised there are still no concrete answers.
Cancer patients have long complained of memory and cognitive issues during and after chemotherapy. And although a recent study out of West Virginia showed changes in brain scans of breast cancer patients before and after chemo, another pointed to other drugs like steroids and anti-nausea medicine, plus stress and a lack of sleep as potential causes of those problems, not just the chemotherapy drugs.
Dr. Patty O'Brien, an oncologist at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, says the different theories are not surprising.
"These are very complex questions and there's a lot of things happening to a cancer patient at once. So, it's really hard to sort out all the different variables because think about what's happening to a cancer patient," O'Brien said.
Doctors say the inability to multitask is a big problem for cancer patients and things like list-making, exercise and behavior therapy can help.
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