Saturday, February 17, 2024

How Long Does Chemo Brain Last

Average Length Of Chemotherapy

How Long Does Chemo Brain Last?

One course of chemo treatment may last between 3 to 6 months. Typically, one course consists of several on-and-off cycles. One cycle usually lasts 2 to 6 weeks.

Within each cycle, there are multiple treatment sessions. The sessions might take place once a day, week, or month. The duration of each session depends on its form.

Heres how long different types of intravenous chemo take:

  • Injection. A syringe is used to deliver the drug in a few minutes.
  • IV infusion. The drug flows into your body over a period lasting several minutes to several hours.
  • Continuous infusion. A continuous infusion takes a day to several days.

Oral and topical chemotherapy are less time-consuming. Thats because they can be done at home on your own.

In oral chemo, you take the drug by mouth. The drug might be in the form of a:

Chemotherapy infusions can last several hours or days. Your healthcare provider can let you know how long each session will likely take.

Heres what you can do to feel more comfortable during each session:

What Causes Cognitive Changes

The exact causes of thinking and memory changes are unknown. So far, studies show the causes may include:

  • cancer treatments
  • treatment side effects, such as trouble sleeping, fatigue, pain, low blood counts and hormone changes
  • medicines given for surgery or to manage side effects of treatment, including anaesthetic, steroids, painkillers and anti-nausea drugs
  • your emotions, such as feelings of depression or anxiety
  • inflammation caused by the cancer, and the way it impacts brain processes
  • in some cases, the physical presence of a tumour in the brain, which can affect mental function.

Treatment For Chemo Brain At Cognitive Fx

Cognitive rehabilitation is one of the treatment options mentioned by the American Cancer Society . But many cognitive rehabilitation programs are not designed to resolve neurovascular coupling dysfunction, and most arent tailored to your unique brain injury.

At Cognitive FX, we offer a robust treatment protocol for invisible brain injuries such as chemo brain, post-concussion syndrome, carbon monoxide poisoning, bacterial and viral disease , and more. Weve successfully treated patients from around the United States and across the world.

95% of patients who complete our Enhanced Performance in Cognition Treatment program show statistically verified improvement of their brain function. Theaverage patient improvement after one week of treatment is 77.5%.

We know this because each patient undergoes brain imaging before and after treatment. Chemo brain shows up on an fMRI if you have the right data and analytics. We use a testing regimen known as fNCI: functional neurocognitive imaging. From that imaging, we learn which brain regions were affected by your injury so we can tailor your treatment week to what you need.

Most healthcare professionals dont know how your brain, specifically, was affected by chemo. So they string together some cognitive therapy exercises and hope you improve. Instead, we use proven, multidisciplinary therapies that encourage neuroplasticity so you can start feeling better.

Aimee, one of our patients, completes a Dynavision exercise.

Also Check: Stage 3 Cervical Cancer Treatment

Inside The White Matter

In addition to neurons, which transmit nerve impulses, the brains white matter contains other cells that help the neurons function. The research focused on three types of those cells: oligodendrocytes, which produce and maintain myelin, the fatty insulating sheath around nerve fibers astrocytes, which link neurons to their blood supply, promote proper connections between neurons and maintain the neurons environment and microglia, immune cells that can engulf and destroy foreign invaders in the brain, as well as sculpt neural circuitry.

Comparing postmortem frontal lobe brain tissue from children who had and had not received chemotherapy, the researchers showed that there were far fewer oligodendrocyte lineage cells in the brains of the chemotherapy-treated children.

If we understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to cognitive dysfunction after cancer therapy, that will help us develop strategies for effective treatment.

To figure out what was happening to these cells, the researchers injected young mice with methotrexate at levels designed to replicate human exposures during cancer treatment. The mice received three doses at weekly intervals. Four weeks later, the researchers compared the mices brains to those of mice that had not received the drug.

Recovery Time Between Cycles

New evidence of chemo brain proves cognitive damage from cancer ...

Between chemotherapy cycles, the body needs time to rest and heal from the damage that may have been done to healthy cells within the body by the treatment.

Recovery times can vary depending on the person and the type of chemotherapy they are receiving. The length of recovery time is also factored in to the overall length of chemotherapy treatment.

Don’t Miss: Can Radiation Cause Bladder Cancer

Chemotherapy Can Cause Neurovascular Coupling Dysfunction

The culprit behind cognitive changes after a brain injury is neurovascular coupling dysfunction. Its also a key but little-known component of chemo brain.

Neurovascular coupling is the relationship between your neurons and the blood vessels that supply them with what they need to do their jobs. When your neurons fire, they need a certain amount of oxygen and other resources. The brain doesnt have an infinite supply of those resources, so it needs to deliver them efficiently for you to function at your best.

Your brain cells neurons and glial cells and the blood vessels that supply them have regular, established methods of communicating with each other. But chemotherapy can disrupt that healthy communication pattern. Chemo drugs like methotrexate reduce the population of new, healthy glial cells and cause inflammation . That inflammation pulls the focus of remaining glial cells away from the neurons they assist and into fight the invader mode.

In addition, chemotherapy may also have a negative impact on vascular structure, which further exacerbates the communication problems your brain experiences during and after chemotherapy.

The result is the symptoms associated with chemo brain.

Chemo Brain Linked To Long

Chemo brain appears to correlate with long-term changes in the brains white matter, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Patients undergoing chemotherapy have long complained of a phenomenon referred to as chemo brain. Chemo brain refers to changes in cognitive function, such as loss of memory and inability to think clearly or perform some daily functions. Thus far, researchers have not been able to pinpoint the cause of chemo brain, but studies are ongoing to evaluate brain structure and function in order to better understand the effects of chemotherapy on the brain.

Researchers performed a controlled observational cohort study in order to evaluate cerebral white matter integrity before and after chemotherapy. The small study included 34 younger premenopausal women with early stage breast cancer who were exposed to chemotherapy, 16 patients who were not exposed to chemotherapy, and 19 age-matched healthy controls.

The women exposed to chemotherapy underwent cognitive testing and magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging prior to beginning chemotherapy and again 3 to 4 months after treatment. The women in the other two groups underwent the same assessment at matched intervals.


  • Ahles TA, Saykin AJ, Furstenberg CT, Cole B, et al. Neuropsychologic Impact of Standard-Dose Systemic Chemotherapy in Long-Term Survivors of Breast Cancer and Lymphoma. Journal of Clinical Oncology2002 20,:485-493.
  • Also Check: Life Expectancy With Colon Cancer

    Exercises You Can Do At Home

    There are steps you can take to feel better while youre at home, too. This includes:

    • Four-dimensional breathing

    Order matters in this case. We recommend following the prepare, activate, rest cycle: physical exercise to boost the blood to your brain, followed by at least fifteen minutes of cognitive exertion, then ten to fifteen minutes of quiet rest .

    Questions To Ask About Chemo Brain

    Chemotherapy: Long-term effects

    These are just some of the questions you may want to ask your doctor:

    • Based on my treatment, am I at increased risk for brain changes?
    • When might these changes happen and how long will they last?
    • Are there other medical problems that could be causing my symptoms?
    • Is there treatment for my symptoms?
    • What can I do to manage chemo brain?
    • Is there anything I can do to help prevent or decrease chemo brain symptoms?
    • Should I see a specialist? Can you recommend one?

    Don’t Miss: Natural Treatment For Chemo Induced Neuropathy

    Can Cancer Go Away On Its Own Without Treatment

    A common question that many people ask is Can cancer go away on its own?. While the question deserves a clear explanation, many times the answer is anything but that. When it comes to cancer, information is usually given from either an overly positive or negative perspective. Very rarely does information come from an unbiased source. And this question is not any different. While this question only has one answer, the way it is presented and explained can be interpreted in many different ways. So as always, we will let the facts speak for themselves and provide you with the best unbiased cancer information available.

    Choosing Where To Die

    There are many options to consider when thinking about where you wish to spend the last weeks of your life.


    You might feel safer being in hospital. You may want the reassurance of knowing there are doctors and nurses nearby.


    Hospices look after people who are no longer having active treatment aimed at curing them. But you have treatment to control symptoms and keep you comfortable. There is 24 hour nursing care. A local GP and palliative care specialist provide the medical care. Hospices aim to keep people well for as long as possible.

    You can go into a hospice for a few days if you have a problem that they can help sort out. Then you can go home again. You can also use the hospice for respite care, to give your family a break if they become very tired looking after you. Many hospices also have day centres.


    If you choose, you can be looked after at home. You might be able to be at home all of the time. It depends on your circumstances. For example, the layout of your house and if there is anyone to help look after you. It might need a bit of thought and planning.

    You May Like: Best Gifts For Someone Going Through Chemo

    Read Also: Radiation Therapy Programs In California

    Factors Affecting Chemotherapy Cycle Length

    Chemotherapy cycle length is determined by factors such as the stage and type of cancer, and which chemotherapy would suit the patient best based on the goals of their treatment.

    The type of chemo that is used and their recovery times are factors that further determine the length of treatment.

    Chemotherapy is also split into on and off cyclesperiods where you have chemotherapy treatment, and the rest period between treatments.

    If you are not getting chemotherapy treatment every day, you may have to undergo several cycles for three to six months.

    What Are Chemo Brain Symptoms


    Issues with memory and executive function are common chemo brain symptoms. In this case, memory is being able to remember what people tell you and things you already know like addresses and names. Executive function is your ability to manage your time and make decisions. Symptoms may include:

    • Having trouble thinking of the right word for a particular object or doing things that once came easily, like adding up numbers in your head.
    • Having trouble following the flow of a conversation.
    • Having a short attention span or trouble focusing on a specific task or idea.
    • Having trouble multitasking, so you feel you need to do one thing at a time.
    • Feeling sluggish, tired or not having energy.
    • Feeling clumsy, as if somethings wrong with your motor skills.

    What causes chemotherapy brain fog?

    Despite its name, chemotherapy brain fog may happen for several different reasons

    Medical treatment that may cause chemo brain
    • Hormone therapy: People with breast cancer or prostate cancer may receive hormone therapy that may affect the parts of their brains that help with cognitive function.
    • Radiation therapy: Fatigue from radiation therapy may affect cognitive function. Likewise, people who have brain cancer may have radiation therapy that could affect cognitive function.
    Physical issues

    Read Also: Cold Cap For Chemo Cost

    How Is Chemo Brain Diagnosed

    It can be difficult to have a clear-cut diagnosis of chemo brain. Your doctor or nurse will discuss your symptoms with you. With your consent, they might also ask someone who knows you well to describe any changes theyve noticed in you.

    Your doctor or nurse might also ask you to:

    • complete a questionnaire or rating scale
    • do some pen-and-paper tasks, for example, copying a shape
    • follow a set of instructions
    • answer some questions to test skills such as your memory and language.

    Your doctor should also talk to you about how your difficulties are affecting your day-to-day life, and how they can support you in managing these.

    What Does Chemo Brain Mean

    A term commonly used to describe thinking and memory problems that a patient with cancer may have before, during, or after cancer treatment. Signs and symptoms of chemo brain include disorganized behavior or thinking, confusion, memory loss, and trouble concentrating, paying attention, learning, and making decisions.

    Don’t Miss: Side Effects Of Radiation In Breast Cancer

    What Is Chemotherapy Brain Fog

    Chemotherapy brain fog, or chemo brain, is feeling as if you cant think as quickly and as clearly as you did before you had cancer or received cancer treatment. Healthcare providers may refer to this condition as chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment or cancer-treatment-related cognitive impairment. But healthcare providers have learned that people develop cognitive problems before, during or after receiving treatment.

    Most of the time, chemo brain is a short-term issue, but some people may have the symptoms for months after theyve finished treatment. Healthcare providers cant cure chemotherapy brain fog, but they can recommend medications or therapy and activities that may help lift the fog of chemo brain.

    How does chemo brain affect everyday life?

    Chemotherapy brain fog affects cognition. Cognition is how we think, how we remember information and our ability to concentrate. Cognition issues related to cancer treatment may show up in small ways. Many times, people can manage everyday tasks, but feel those tasks require more concentration and take more time. Sometimes, chemo brain fog makes people feel self-conscious about their cognitive issues, so they become more isolated. Chemotherapy brain fog often affects peoples ability to function in the workplace.

    Does chemo brain cause personality changes?

    How common is this condition?

    Addressing Other Issues That Could Be Affecting Your Cognition

    Treating ‘Chemo Brain’ In Cancer Patients And Survivors

    Your doctors should check for and treat any physical underlying issues such as anaemia or an infection that might be making your symptoms worse. Its also important to get support if you are experiencing emotional difficulties, such as low mood, stress or anxiety.

    Some research suggests that physical activity can have a positive effect on thinking processes such as memory, attention and speech. Whether or not it has a direct impact, physical activity can have a positive effect on mood, which can in turn improve thinking processes.

    There is the frustration of not being able to do things I could do before. Some of this I have put down to chemo brain, which causes me problems with concentration and with finding the correct word. Surprisingly though, I have become more creative and enjoy many crafts that I would not have tackled in the past.

    Below are some tips and strategies that some people find helps them to manage chemo brain.

    To help with focus

    To help with remembering

    • Leave yourself written reminders or set up alerts on your phone.
    • Use a calendar on your wall or on your phone to keep track of appointments.
    • Write down any questions youd like to ask your medical team and take them with you to your appointments.
    • Make visual links with pictures in your mind to help you remember things.
    • Add items to the shopping list when they start to run low.
    • Use maps, GPS or other navigations systems if you find it hard to remember how to get to places.

    Read Also: Stereotactic Radiation Therapy For Dogs

    Preparing For Lasting Side Effects

    As chemotherapy destroys cancer cells, it also harms healthy cells. This includes cells in your digestive system and hair, along with cells that produce blood.

    In turn, chemo can cause various side effects. Some side effects go away quickly, while other side effects can last longer than the actual treatment. These effects can last months or years.

    This means that chemotherapy can technically take much longer beyond the treatment itself. Heres what you can do to prepare for these side effects in the long term:

    If you need financial assistance with these forms of care, organizations like Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition and CancerCare may help.

    Does Chemo Brain Go Away Wilmot Scientists Investigate

    • Does Chemo Brain Go Away? Wilmot Scientists Investigate

    Wilmot Cancer Institute scientists have already discovered that chemo brain is a substantial problem that can linger for six months after chemotherapy ends. A new, $3 million grant ensures the research will continue with the next questions focusing on whether the cognitive decline can continue for up to 10 years and how best to treat it.

    Michelle Janelsins, Ph.D., a neuroscientist who later pivoted to clinical cancer research, is the principal investigator on the five-year National Cancer Institute award.

    There are so many interesting things to look at, Janelsins said. She mostly evaluates chemo brain in women with breast cancer, and is also trying to untangle the roles of menopause and routine age-related cognitive decline.

    Cognitive impairment has a huge impact on a persons daily functioning: how to manage the work/life balance, finances, social life. One of the most important questions to me is: How long does it last after treatment and what cognitive domains are most affected?

    Chemo brain is estimated to impact 80 percent of cancer patients and survivors.

    For years, many oncologists were skeptical that the chemotherapy side effect existed, preferring to focus on attacking the cancer.

    But in 2016 and 2018, Janelsins showing that its a pervasive issue. In addition to fogginess and memory problems, patients often report difficulty with concentration, with visual memory skills, and with sustained attention.

    Don’t Miss: How To Help Someone With Cancer

    Latest news
    Related news