"chemo brain" -- chronic difficulties with concentration, multitasking, and particularly
short-term memory after taking anti-cancer therapies. [2,3]

A study from UCLA shows that chemotherapy causes changes to the brain's metabolism and
blood flow even 10 years after treatment. This finding explains why people receiving
chemotherapy often can't focus, remember things or multitask the way they did before
chemotherapy. [1]

In a study of 21 women with breast cancer, researchers scanned their brains using positron
emission tomography (PET) 5-10 years after surgery. Among these patients, 16 of them had
been treated with chemotherapy (e.g. tamoxifen) to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
Researchers also compared the scans with 13 control subjects did not have breast cancer or
chemotherapy during the period of time. Researchers asked the women to perform a series
of short-term memory exercises and measured the blood flow to their brains at the same
time, they also scanned the patients' resting brain metabolism (how the brain uses sugar to
make energy) after the exercises. [1-3]

The researchers found a link between chemo-brain symptoms and lower metabolism in a
key region of the frontal cortex. They also found that the lower the patient's resting brain
metabolism rate was, the more difficulty she had performing the test. These women's brains
were working harder than the control subjects' to recall the same information. [1-3]

One interesting observation is that women who underwent hormonal therapy in addition to
chemotherapy displayed changes to their basal ganglia, a part of the brain that works to
bridge thought and action. On average, these women showed an 8 percent drop in resting
metabolism in this brain region. [1-3]

Chemo-brain symptoms should be considered as long-term side effects of chemotherapy. It
is not clear whether chemotherapy treatments for other diseases cause similar effects. [2]

1 Scientists find chemo brain no figment of the imagination Innovation Report 9 10 2006 2 Images confirm what patients know
Chemo can hurt the brain Boston Globe October 9 2006 3 Chemo makes brain work harder BBC News October 9 2006
How does cancer drug
affect our brain?
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