For patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments, the road to remission is often a very long and difficult one, fatigue, pain, hair loss, nausea and loss of appetite are all common side effects that are widely known. Lesser known are the cognitive effects that chemotherapy has on the brain, though more and more research is being done and in turn, more and more ways to help manage the side effects listed above are being put to use.
Chemo Brain, or cognitive impairment following chemotherapy was first reported in the 1980’s after being reported by some breast cancer patients. Confusion, forgetfulness or general fogginess, as well as trouble concentrating and shortened attention span were all present. While generally thought of as correlated to chemo treatments, we now know that there are several factors that can contribute to symptoms such as these. Some cancer patients who have not undergone chemotherapy treatments have also experienced the conditions associated with Chemo Brain. This has led some experts to conclude that rather than being a direct affect of the chemo treatment, it is hormonal changes that occur during cancer treatments that cause these symptoms. Still a simpler explanation may be that the fatigue and depression that many times go hand in hand with cancer treatment can also lessen one’s ability to focus or multitask.
How long Chemo Brain lasts and the severity of it varies by patient. There are currently no specific tests to identify post-cancer cognitive problems, and many patients who experience the symptoms of Chemo Brain score in the normal range on memory tests. However, there are some things that a patient can do to help their doctor determine the course of treatment.
- Keep a journal of your memory lapses including descriptions of the situations and what you were doing at the time
- Make a list of all medications and be sure to include vitamins and supplements
- Write down any questions that you want to ask your doctor
- Take someone with you and/ or record the visit with your doctor so that you can have all the information provided to you during the appointment
Currently, there are no medications or standard treatments for Chemo Brain and treatment focuses on coping with symptoms. Individualized care is of the utmost importance, as is working with a doctor who is highly skilled in the inner working of the brain and nervous system. Chiropractic neurologists are masters at treating the individual and seeking the root of underlying problems. This, coupled with the fact that they are highly skilled in the inner workings of the brain and the brain and nervous system connection, many times Chiropractic Neurology is succeeding where more traditional methods have failed. Though there is no hard and fast rule to length of treatment or even specific methods of treatment, many times Chemo Brain and other chronic conditions show rapid improvement and the doctor is an expert in following the evolution of a patient’s progress and making adjustments as needed.
If you are experiencing memory loss or other cognitive difficulties following cancer treatment and would like to learn more about what Chiropractic Neurology can do for you, please contact Dr. Marc Ellis and his team at the Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center today at 770-664-4288.