ANCHOR LEAD: HOW PROFOUND IS CHEMOTHERAPY’S EFFECT ON THE BRAIN? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
“Chemo brain,” is a side effect of cancer treatment that survivors report as increased forgetfulness, difficulty remembering, and trouble with daily activities that require planning or coordination. Women who’ve been treated for breast cancer especially identify chemo brain as a problem. Ben Park, a breast cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, believes it’s a real phenomenon.
PARK: It’s not just chemotherapy, radiation therapy also has long term as well as short term side effects. I think the thing that we’re going to find out is now that we have patients who are living longer and longer we’re going to discover more and more short and long term side effects but at the same time, doing the risk/benefit analysis we know that most of the women are going to benefit from getting this chemotherapy and that that benefit outweighs the risk associated with the toxic side effects. But I think no oncologist would say that chemotherapy will be without both short and long term side effects. :30
Park says for now, the only option is for patients to be aware of chemo brain and perhaps develop memory aids or devices that work for them. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.