“We anticipate the loss of certain things in the process of cancer treatment—hair, perhaps, or our sense of invincibility—but losing one’s mental edge is often unanticipated and particularly disconcerting!!”
As most people are aware, Chemotherapy is a treatment that is used to remove or destroy cancer cells, but does not come without the destruction of many otherwise healthy cells. Since chemotherapy is not a targeted therapy, it affects more parts of the body than just the area where the tumor is located, with the central nervous system, including the brain, being particularly vulnerable to this ‘all or nothing‘ type approach.
“The day cancer treatment ends, a new chapter begins”
New studies including research led by Dr. Dan Silverman, reveals that the agents used to kill cancer cells may also impair normal brain function, with people reporting problems with memory, concentration, multitasking, and word retrieval, which can be one of the most frustrating and debilitating side effect of cancer and its treatment.
These recent studies have confirmed that ‘post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment‘ (PCCI) is a real, measurable side effect of chemotherapy that appears in some patients. It has become clearer that ‘Chemo-brain symptoms’ can often be due to ‘chemotherapeutic drugs passing through the blood-brain barrier’, interfering with neural pathways. While any cancer patient may experience temporary cognitive impairment whilst undergoing chemotherapy, patients with PCCI continue to experience these symptoms long after chemotherapy has been completed.
“Cancer-related cognitive impairment has been acknowledged by the scientific community as a substantial limiting factor in quality of life among cancer patients and survivors”
There is one study however, which offers hope for ‘Chemo Brain’ sufferers, performed at The Applied Brain Research Foundation of Ohio. This study has revealed that by using ‘Neurofeedback brain training‘ it has been shown to reverse cognitive impairment symptoms in over 90% of chemo brain patients tested. This specially developed software challenges the brain out of its ineffective patterns and reinforces its innate and natural ability to self regulate, with the aim of bypassing deficits and instead help build new connectors and connections to improve cognition.