Researchers (Sabine Deprez, MD, et. al.) at a university hospital in Belgium have added to significant evidence that cancer treatment affects attention, concentration, memory and how quickly we process information (psychomotor speed). It also decreases white matter in the frontal, parietal and occipital regions of the brain. Their study appeared this week in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.This is not the first to look at how chemotherapy alters brain structure and function. In our book, YOUR BRAIN AFTER CHEMO, we report on a pioneering 2006 study published in the journal Cancer where a group of Japanese researchers (Masatoshi Inagaki, MD, Ph.D., et. al.) found that regions of the brain involved in learning, reasoning, and intuition, had shrunk significantly in women who had chemotherapy.
Both studies relied on neuropsychologic testing and brain imaging to form their conclusions.
To put these studies into context, read the Healthy Brain and Unhealthy Brain chapters of our book. The material will give you a good sense of what all these studies really mean and how changes in brain chemistry affect those of us who have been through cancer treatment, Then turn to the section, Q and A With Your Doctor, to find out which drugs are most suspect, whether tamoxifen or other hormonal drugs make chemo brain worse, and why certain people notice these changes more than others.
And finally, feel free to ask questions or offer an opinion in the comment box. I'll do my best to help.