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Cognitive Changes after Cancer Treatment

"I often ask patients about other aspects of their life that can impact cognition, such as sleep, dealing with pain, or medications they're taking."
— Mary-Ellen Meadows, PhD 

Cognitive Changes after Cancer Treatment

After treatment, some cancer survivors notice problems remembering things, or they may feel as if they are thinking and processing more slowly. You might notice you're having memory lapses, problems thinking of the right words, difficulty concentrating on what you're doing, or not being able to multitask. Cancer survivors often refer to this condition as "chemo brain."

What You Can Do

  • Pace yourself. If you're having problems multitasking, take a step back and try to focus on one thing at a time. Try adding more tasks as time goes on.
  • Write it down. Use a notebook or electronic organizer to help you keep track of daily tasks and activities that you may be having problems remembering.
  • Be aware of potential external causes. Problems with memory or thinking can be caused by external factors, such as lack of sleep, certain medications, pain, and emotional issues, such as anxiety, stress, or depression.
  • Ask for help. Talk with your doctor. He or she can work with you to find the causes of cognitive changes, and create strategies that may help you cope.

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