Trauma of a Breast Cancer Diagnosis Can Have Cognitive Effects

The mental fog often experienced by breast cancer patients after chemotherapy might be due more to post-traumatic stress than to the cancer drugs, a new study suggests, in this report from Reuters.

“Patients who complain of cognitive problems may actually suffer from post-traumatic stress or other substantial psychological consequences of having cancer, which can be treated,” says Dr. Kerstin Hermelink from CCCLMU University Hospital of Munich, Germany.

“Physicians should therefore attentively listen to their patients who complain of cognitive impairment and try to understand their individual situation to find out what the patient needs,” she added.

The effects of chemotherapy on the brain – chemo-brain – have been blamed for the “brain fog” sometimes experienced by women with breast cancer, but similar symptoms have been reported by breast cancer patients who haven’t started their chemo yet and even by those whose treatment didn’t include chemotherapy, Hermelink and colleagues noted in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“Physicians should tell their patients that very subtle cognitive impairment is not only observed after chemotherapy but also in patients treated without chemotherapy, and even in patients who have not yet started any treatment for breast cancer at all,” she said.

“The brain is not a machine that delivers the same level of performance as long as it is not broken but its function – and in the long run also its structure – are affected by our actions and experiences. The diagnosis of a life-threatening illness like breast cancer comes as a shock to most patients, which may leave traces in the brain, even if they cope very well.”

Listen to breast cancer expert Dr. Jay Harness in his interview with Dr. Daniela Bota, Assistant Professor at UC Irvine Nerology School of Medicine, talks about chemo brain and how patients can use cognitive training to exercise their brain, to reverse the effects of chemo-brain, also known as brain fog.

Learn more by reading the full story in Reuters, and by reading the full report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

This entry was posted in Chemotherapy, Emotional Reconstruction®, Information Strength, Research News, Video, We Live You®: The Latest and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.