Healthy Tips: Chemo and Memory

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We understand that with chemotherapy comes a lot of do’s and don’ts, and we here at The Cancer Doctors want to try to make things as easy for our cancer patients as possible, so we’ve come up with some Healthy Tips for living with chemo.

Today’s tips are all about lab tests during chemo, and why they’re so important.


1. Feeling More Forgetful Lately? Memory loss is unfortunately a potential side effect of cancer treatment that a lot of patients can experience. Radiation treatment and chemotherapy may cause short-term or long-term memory loss, as well as difficulty multitasking or a ‘cloudy’ feeling brain. Like any other side effects, the severity varies from person to person. This can be an especially frustrating side effect, as you and your family adjust to losing things like glasses and car keys, or forgetting dates of appointments.


2. How Long Can I expect It For? Unfortunately, the length of this side effect varies from person to person. Studies have shown cognitive difficulty in patients whether they received radiation or chemotherapy. Furthermore, studies have not reached a consensus on the length of the effects for each type of treatment but have stated anywhere from a few months to several years post treatment. However, patients receiving treatment for cancer tend to be approaching menopausal or elderly; cognitive difficulties may also be a result of advancing age.

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3. What Should I Do? The idea of memory loss is scary for everyone, but you can abate the effect it has on your life. Smart phones allow you to set labeled alarms throughout the day, which can serve as reminders to take your medication, walk your dog, or take the trash to the curb. If you don’t have a smart phone, placing post-it notes around your house may also be helpful! For example, a brightly colored post it on the visor of your car will remind you to close the garage door. You may have medication that you need to take at a certain time of day. A good idea is to place the medication in an easily seen place and have a notebook next to it, so you can write down the date and time that you took your medication. That way you won’t forget to take it or take extra accidentally.


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