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'Chemobrain' Makes Life Harder After Cancer

Published On: Sep 16 2011 03:35:32 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 18 2009 07:47:29 AM CDT

Women who survive breast cancer often have to adapt their lives to cope with "chemobrain" -- symptoms such as memory loss, loss of concentration or other cognitive changes -- after their treatment, a new report says.

Dr. Saskia Subramanian from the UCLA Center for Culture and Health published findings from their stories in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

In interviews and focus groups with 74 women at least a year after their treatment, the researchers found that women were frustrated and upset and said they were less able to retain material or digest new information. Some faced reduced independence.

The changes made them feel scared, dependent and emotionally drained. Some had to cut back on work and social activities.

A news release on the work said most complained about the lack of acknowledgement from the medical community. Many wished they had received some warning and only a few got answers from their physicians.

Chemobrain also affected women's performance at work. Because they were less able to focus, duties became more difficult and often took longer. This affected their efficiency and reduced their chances of promotion or assignment to projects.

Survivors of other cancers have also reported cognitive problems, but the study only addressed breast-cancer survivors.

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