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Research Confirms “Chemo Brain” Can Persist for Up to 6 Months After Breast Cancer Treatment

Posted on January 4, 2017 by Disability Help Group

Up until recently, the phenomenon of losing mental sharpness and memory after chemotherapy was not widely recognized as a concern. However, a study from the Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York has found that this cognitive impairment, known as chemo brain, might be more common than previously expected.

Using self-reported data from 581 female breast cancer patients and 364 healthy patients of similar age range, the research team found the problem is significantly more common in patients who undergo chemotherapy.

Researchers gathered the data from a questionnaire called the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Cognitive Function (FACT-Cog).

Cognitive impairment affected 45.2 percent of the breast cancer patients, compared to only 10.4 percent of healthy women.

Chemo brain persisted well after chemotherapy treatment ended, with 18.4 percent of the breast cancer patients reporting significant decline six months later.

Researchers also reported a FACT-Cog decline in 36.5 percent of breast cancer patients in the year-long span from prechemotherapy to six months past treatment. This is much higher than the 13.6 percent who reported a decline in the control group.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also found that patients who experienced anxiety and depression developed greater cognitive impairment.

With these findings, researchers hope to understand how these impairments occur, if possible, reduce the impact on chemotherapy patients.

Cancer Impairments Like Chemo Brain Can Last Well Beyond Treatment — Know Your Right to Benefits

Many cancer patients experience disabling conditions during and after treatment. Therefore, it is important to speak with a disability advocate to understand your right to benefits when your cancer-related impairments prevent you from working and earning a substantial income.

Contact the Disability Help Group at 800-800-2009 to learn about your options for Social Security disability benefits.