Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

Posted: Updated:

SEATTLE (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.

"I just felt like my mind was muddled," Deborah Binder, cancer survivor, told Ivanhoe.

"I'd ask my husband for the milk when I was meaning to ask for a banana," Janet Freeman-Daily, cancer survivor, told Ivanhoe.

These cancer survivors are living with chemo brain.

"It generally refers to people who have some kind of cognitive difficulty following cancer treatment," Monique Cherrier, PhD, Research Associate Professor, Neuropsychologist, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Wash., told Ivanhoe.

Chemo brain affects anywhere from 14 to 85 percent of cancer patients, but it's not just the chemo that causes problems. Radiation, hormone therapy, and surgery are also to blame.

Now, researchers are studying whether cognitive rehabilitation can help. Patients attended group sessions for seven weeks and learned proven memory strategies.

"We're actually seeing some nice activation pattern changes in the brain," Dr. Cherrier said.

After cognitive rehab, researchers can see the pattern of brain activation, suggesting they processed information more efficiently.

One of Janet's favorite memory exercises is the "memory palace." You picture a room in your house and visually put something you want to remember by an object in that room.

"When I want to recall it, I just go back up and walk through the house and that image is there in the entry, and it reminds me of what it is that I'm trying to remember," Janet explained.

Deborah says learning to group together information—like numbers—helped her.

"I feel like it is getting better, but I don't feel like I'm where I was before I was diagnosed," Deborah said.

Other factors like lack of sleep, stress, and depression may also play a role in cognitive functioning and may also impact patients with cancer related cognitive dysfunction.

A study in 2012 looked at women after breast cancer surgery before any treatment was given. About one-in-four showed problems with word skills and about one-in-seven had memory issues. The women who reported worse brain problems also reported higher stress levels.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

BACKGROUND: Cancer survivors often complain about a mental cloudiness they notice before, during, and after cancer treatment.  Its exact cause isn't always known, but this mental fog is commonly referred to as chemo brain. Chemo brain can also be called chemo fog, chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment or cognitive dysfunction. Patients have been aware of chemo brain for a while now, but researchers are only recently conducting studies to help explain it. Experts have known for years that radiation treatment to the brain can cause thinking and memory problems.  Recently, they have found that chemo is linked to some of the same kinds of issues.  Research shows that some cancer drugs can cause certain changes in the brain.  However, it also shows that chemo and radiation aren't the only things that can cause thinking and memory problems in people with cancer. (Source: www.cancer.org and http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chemo-brain/basics/symptoms/con-20033864)

WHAT IS CHEMO BRAIN?:  Here are just a few examples of what patients call chemo brain:

TREATMENT:  Not many treatments exist for chemo brain, although some patients may find relief from stimulants like Ritalin, commonly used to treat ADHD.  It can help improve mental focus, concentration, and stamina in cancer patients.  Another thing to help manage the problems that might come with chemo brain is to use a detailed daily planner.  Keeping everything in one place makes it easier to find the reminders you need.  Also, exercise your brain by taking a class or doing word puzzles.  Eating veggies, exercising, and getting enough sleep also keep you alert.  Tracking your memory problems can also be beneficial.  Keep a diary of medicines taken, time of day, and the situation you are in. It might help you figure out what affects your memory. Keeping track of when the problems are most noticeable can also help you prepare. You'll know to avoid planning important conversations or appointments during those times. This will also be useful when you talk with your doctor about these problems. (Source: www.cancer.org and http://www.mdanderson.org/patient-and-cancer-information/cancer-information/cancer-topics/dealing-with-cancer-treatment/chemobrain/index.html)

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Diana David
Research Assistant
UW Memory Health Research Program
(206) 667-7930
wellness@uw.edu

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Nasal Spray For Alzheimer's

    Nasal Spray For Alzheimer's

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-23 21:15:11 GMT
    Every 70 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure, but there is new hope. From July 12-17, the greatest minds in Alzheimer’s research gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark discussing the latest breakthroughs and developments in this disease.more>>
    Every 70 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure, but there is new hope. From July 12-17, the greatest minds in Alzheimer’s research gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark discussing the latest breakthroughs and developments in this disease.more>>
  • Drug To Prevent Alzheimer's

    Drug To Prevent Alzheimer's

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:15:05 GMT
    Everyone-- no matter if you are a man or woman, family history or not-- with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Age is the biggest risk factor and America is aging. Right now, dozens of research sites across the country are testing an experimental drug to see if it might prevent memory loss associated with this terrible disease.more>>
    Everyone-- no matter if you are a man or woman, family history or not-- with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Age is the biggest risk factor and America is aging. Right now, dozens of research sites across the country are testing an experimental drug to see if it might prevent memory loss associated with this terrible disease.more>>
  • Could Down Syndrome Be The Key To Alzheimer's?

    Could Down Syndrome Be The Key To Alzheimer's?

    Monday, July 21 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-21 21:15:13 GMT
    More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 400,000 of them also have Down syndrome. What does a condition seen at birth have in common with a disease typically diagnosed in the elderly? Quite a bit.more>>
    More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. More than 400,000 of them also have Down syndrome. What does a condition seen at birth have in common with a disease typically diagnosed in the elderly? Quite a bit.more>>
  • Extreme Workouts

    Extreme Workouts

    Friday, July 18 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-07-18 22:04:23 GMT
    Workout routines have taken a tortuous turn. Running through mud and fighting in cages are just some of the latest extreme workouts, but one wrong move and you could be in trouble.more>>
    Workout routines have taken a tortuous turn. Running through mud and fighting in cages are just some of the latest extreme workouts, but one wrong move and you could be in trouble.more>>
  • Extreme Skin

    Extreme Skin

    Thursday, July 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-17 21:15:05 GMT
    Last year, Americans underwent more than 11-million cosmetic procedures and spent nearly $12-billion on skin rejuvenation. Everyone wants their skin to look younger, healthier and better, but some are taking it to an extreme.more>>
    Last year, Americans underwent more than 11-million cosmetic procedures and spent nearly $12-billion on skin rejuvenation. Everyone wants their skin to look younger, healthier and better, but some are taking it to an extreme.more>>
  • Extreme Diets

    Extreme Diets

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-16 21:15:07 GMT
    Dieting is an American pastime. About 45-million of us diet each year, and we spend about $33-billion on weight-loss products. There are more ways to diet than ever and some are pretty extreme.more>>
    Dieting is an American pastime. About 45-million of us diet each year, and we spend about $33-billion on weight-loss products. There are more ways to diet than ever and some are pretty extreme.more>>
  • Frozen Lumpectomy For Prostate

    Frozen Lumpectomy For Prostate

    Tuesday, July 15 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-15 21:15:08 GMT
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.more>>
    More than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In most cases, surgical removal of the gland is considered the gold standard of treatment, but results of a new study suggest a new treatment might benefit some patients.more>>
  • Bariatric Surgery For Diabetes

    Bariatric Surgery For Diabetes

    Wednesday, July 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. For years, we’ve heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.more>>
    Nearly 90 percent of people with type-two diabetes are obese and as more Americans gain weight, more will likely face a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. For years, we’ve heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.more>>
  • Ankle Replacement

    Ankle Replacement

    Tuesday, July 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-08 21:15:10 GMT
    More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Between 6 percent and 13 percent of them have ankle arthritis. These patients feel pain with every single step they take, but now ankle replacements are giving patients a new lease on life.more>>
    More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Between 6 percent and 13 percent of them have ankle arthritis. These patients feel pain with every single step they take, but now ankle replacements are giving patients a new lease on life.more>>
  • 3D Knee

    3D Knee

    Monday, July 7 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-07 21:15:09 GMT
    In the past ten years, the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled and many of those patients are much younger than ever before. Now, new technology allows doctors to make replacement knees that are the perfect fit.more>>
    In the past ten years, the number of total knee replacements in the U.S. has doubled and many of those patients are much younger than ever before. Now, new technology allows doctors to make replacement knees that are the perfect fit.more>>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.