Managing ‘Chemo Brain’ After Breast Cancer Treatment

African American woman at work headache“Chemo brain” — the mental fog common after breast cancer treatment — can persist for six months, new research shows.

The finding comes from one of the largest studies to date to look at chemotherapy-related thinking problems that plague many women treated for breast cancer. Those problems can include memory lapses, attention issues and difficulty processing information.

When researchers compared hundreds of U.S. women six months after chemotherapy ended with hundreds of healthy women, they found more than one-third of the chemotherapy group had a decline in thinking scores versus less than 15 percent of the others.

“The bottom line is, this is a real problem, patients are having difficulties and we need to acknowledge it is one of the difficulties of treatment,” said Dr. Patricia Ganz.

Ganz is director of cancer prevention and control research at the University of California, Los Angeles Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

She’s also co-author of an editorial accompanying the study, which was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Chemo brain can affect daily life in many ways, said study author Michelle Janelsins.