Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chemotherapy Alters Brain Tissue in Breast Cancer Patients, Say Indiana University Researchers

Dear Readers, 

Before you read the press release below, I'd like you to know that the concept of using brain scans to connect the dots between chemotherapy and cognitive dysfunction is not new.  

What is new is that this study was "prospective," meaning "over time."  Whereas in other studies the participants had already been through some amount of chemotherapy or had completed treatment years prior, Dr. Saykin and his team did a "before" and "after." They scanned patients prior to undergoing chemo or radiation and then at two points after going through chemo. So they had some good data comparing the changes in brain tissue.

Monday, September 20, 2010

5 Ways to Self-Empower Even the Foggiest Recovery

By Michele Rosenthal
Guest Blogger

The most difficult part of being sick - and recovering afterward - is the cognitive impairment we experience during that time. Whether due to drugs, medications, stress or just plain exhaustion it can be so difficult to keep our heads clear, our minds exact, and our thoughts congruent. After fifteen years of being a chronic, sleep-deprived, malnourished and overly stressed patient with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), however, I discovered that there are definitely some self-empowered ways to gain control during that fuzzy-brained period.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hypogonadism (Decreased Hormones) in Male Lymphoma Patients After Chemo

From "J"

One lymphoma-related male issue is that of hypogonadism, where the testes produce decreased or no hormones.

In a paper in the British Journal of Cancer (2009), a group in Norway found (I'm trusting my memory here so be warned the details may not be exact but the principle is) that about 40% of men over 50 treated for lymphoma were hypogonadal. This can be a late side-effect. They compared patients with and without radiation.

I had been having hot flashes and fatigue and thought my thyroid was messed up. My primary care physician is an endocrinologist and correctly identified the problem. Testosterone levels were running on fumes. Admittedly the seminal article (pun intended) from Norway which had large numbers had just been published. I hope oncologists are checking testosterone levels in men post chemo for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Hodgkin's lymphoma. If you are only borderline low you'll have to fight with your insurance company but citing the BJC article may help. -- "J", non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
A Response From
Dr. Dan Silverman

Thanks for shining a light on the problem of endocrine hypogonadism that is, unfortunately, not uncommon among men who have been treated for lymphoma.
As you have indicated, men who are over 50 years old are especially vulnerable to it, suffering from this condition about five times more

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stand Up 2 Cancer AND "Chemo Brain"

Marcia Cohee
Saw the Stand Up 2 Cancer program last week, and just bawled, terrified. It broke down all those little defenses that say "Oh, cancer wasn't so bad." It was. And is. Chemotherapy has taken my concentration, my ability to write and my energy to crawl to poetry readings. The greatest tragedy is not that I am sick, but that I am one of millions of cancer "survivors" who are now sick and disabled.

Marcia Cohee is the author of four collections of poems which she wrote prior to experiencing"chemo brain."  Her collection, "Story," is available through Amazon and her publisher.  She will be reading at the Ugly Mug Cafe in Orange, CA on November 3, 2010.

What was your reaction to Stand Up 2 Cancer's telethon? Click on the COMMENTS box below and let us know.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Do You Learn?

Idelle Davidson

I have always been interested in how the brain works, not just in adults but in kids too.  So some years back when a national magazine asked me to write a piece on the best ways for children to learn, I couldn't wait to dig in and interview the experts.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Note From Bobbi

You saved my life a few years back after listening to your and Dr Silverman's webcast talking about chemo brain.  My oncologist saved my physical life but you saved my emotional life.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Breast Cancer Survivor Asks: Will My Mind Return to Normal? [From Susan]

I was diagnosed with breast cancer over seven years ago and underwent a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation.  Immediately after my first chemo, I experienced severe difficulties remembering things and felt like I was definitely  not on top of my game.  I was immediately placed on disability for my "cognitive deficit"  because I was unable to perform my job as a medical sales representative. I have been seen by many specialists, including a neurologist, neuropsychologist and even had brain scans. I have gone to physical, occupational and cognitive therapy.  Basically, I have suffered loss of a job, a financially secure retirement, loss of respect from family and friends because they have no idea what has happened to me.  And although I have tried to advocate for gaining back some brain cells...I have become very discouraged. Will I ever get better?? -- Susan
 Hello Susan,
You are certainly not alone.  In general, it is believed about 40% of people who have had chemotherapy can have mild to moderate dysfunction with memory and/or attention, well beyond the time of last chemotherapy.   Evidence from research suggests these problems do not get progressively worse, such as might be expected with forms of dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.  However, some research suggests these problems are long lasting over years.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Word Retrieval: How Chemotherapy Changes the Way You Think, Part 4

Idelle Davidson

It's right there on the tip of your tongue.  It's a word that has a "ka" sound in the beginning and a "tah" sound somewhere at the end.  And you can almost see it, but then darn, it's gone.  Perhaps later, when you're rushing to slap dinner on the table, that stupid word, so maddeningly elusive just hours before will pop right into your head, as if it were all just a silly misunderstanding between you and your brain.