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Help for Mesothelioma Patients with “Chemo Brain”

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you have been receiving chemotherapy as part of your treatment protocol, then you are probably familiar with “chemo brain”. The term refers to memory problems and cloudy thinking that cancer patients frequently experience. Though the Mayo Clinic insists that the term is misleading and that it is “unlikely that chemotherapy is the sole cause of concentration and memory problems in cancer survivors,” a new report contradicts their conclusion, and says that the impact of chemo brain is clear, and can last for up to six months.

The research was not done on mesothelioma patients, but it is thought that much of the information that it produced can be applied to patients with a wide range of cancers. Dr. Patricia Ganz of the University of California at Los Angeles Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center co-authored the editorial accompanying the study, and wrote that, “The bottom line is, this is a real problem, patients are having difficulties, and we need to acknowledge it is one of the difficulties of treatment.” Ganz is the cancer center’s director of cancer prevention and control research, and the study looked at the experiences of hundreds of breast cancer patients from the days prior to chemotherapy, through their treatment, and for six months after treatment. They determined that roughly one in three had experienced a decline in a variety of cognitive scores.

According to the study’s author, Michelle Janelsins, some of the impacts of chemo brain can include difficulty remembering the names of people with whom patients are familiar, or losing their way on a familiar route. Though most reported some improvement over time they also indicated that the problems did not entirely disappear. 

One potential solution for those experiencing chemo brain may be a new program called Brain H-Q developed by the company Posit Science. The computer-based program offers cancer patients the opportunity to engage in cognitive exercises lasting one hour long, three times a week. They designed to restore their abilities. It uses either written or audio prompts, and in studies it has been shown to provide reversal of cognitive losses.

Being diagnosed with mesothelioma represents a number of consequential losses, but the use of program’s like Brain H-Q can help. For more insights into dealing with your condition, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net by calling us at 1-800-692-8608, or visit our website, www.mesothelioma.net.

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