Pediatric Caregiver, Adult Cancer Survivor and Adult Caregiver support

  • 4th Angel Mentoring Program/ Cleveland Clinic: The 4th Angel Mentoring Program is a national, free service for patients and caregivers who are matched with trained mentors.  While emphasizing one-on-one contact by phone or email, matches are primarily made based on similar age and cancer experiences (diagnosis, treatment, stage, etc.) to offer unique, personalized peer support.  They serve adult patients, caregivers, and pediatric caregivers.  Contact them at 866-520-3197, www.4thangel.org, or  4thangel@ccf.org. 

Lung Cancer Patient and Caregiver Support

  • LUNGevity provides peer to peer, free, personalized phone and email support service that matches a lung cancer patient or caregiver with a Lifeline Support Partner. Learn more at www.LUNGevity.org.

Female Cancer Support

The Verma Foundation

  • The Verma Foundation is a non-profit organization that creates custom cap wigs at no cost for women and children fighting cancer and dealing with the emotional side effect of hair loss.

The Dana Farber Cancer Institute Health Library

  • Eating Well During Cancer is a video series and resource toolkit features Dana-Farber nutrition specialist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN, and explores how diet can help support your health and wellbeing during and after cancer treatment.

Boston Cancer Support

  • Boston Cancer Support's mission is to improve the quality of life for all those affected by cancer in Massachusetts. Our vision is to equip patients, families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals with local information, resources, and collaborative communities that help them navigate the medical, psychosocial and practical challenges of cancer – affording them the best chance at optimal health outcomes. 

Ways to Reduce the Financial Burden of Cancer

 


Chemo Brain in Cancer Patients:
What Is It and How Can It Be Managed?

By Lori Smith, BSN, MSN, CRNP
June 24, 2019

“Chemo brain” is a side effect of chemotherapy that affects cognitive function in cancer patients. Also known as cancer treatment–related cognitive impairment, it is often described as a decrease in mental “sharpness” before, during, and after cancer treatment, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The length of these effects, as well as their severity, vary. Although there is no test to diagnose the condition, nor specific treatment, some medications and coping strategies have been shown to be helpful in some patients. This slideshow discusses several strategies to manage chemo brain, as well as research on how chemotherapy affects the brain long-term. 

  • What is Chemo Brain?
    1. A decrease in mental awareness during chemotherapy
  • What Causes Chemo Brain?
    2. Chemo brain may be caused by a number of factors
  • Strategies to Help Manage Chemo Brain
    3. Using a daily planner, brain exercises, and physical activity
  • Pharmacologic Therapies to Relieve Symptoms
    4. Some medications be helpful in improving symptoms
  • Efficacy of Modafinil for Chemo Brain in Women
    5. Modafinil may improve cognition in women treated for breast cancer
  • Web-Based Cognitive Behavioral Rehabilitation
    6. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology
  • Link Between Cancer and Long-Term Cognition
    7. Cancer survivors may have an increased risk

1. What is Chemo Brain? According to the ACS, chemo brain is often defined as a decrease in mental awareness during chemotherapy. Symptoms include memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, trouble multi-tasking, and slower thinking and processing while completing tasks. Patients may complain of forgetting things they never had trouble remembering, struggling to find words to complete a sentence, and being unable to recall names or dates. For many, chemo brain can set in quickly and lasts only a short time. Some patients might not even notice changes, but others may find they they affect their everyday life. (Source)

2. What Causes Chemo Brain? Research suggests that chemo brain may be caused by a number of factors, including the presence of cancer itself and treatments like surgery and hormone procedures. Medication used to treat nausea and pain during therapy may also lead to decreased cognitive function. Other studies show that chemo brain may be a function of cancer side effects such as stress/anxiety, depression, low blood count, sleep troubles, infection, and fatigue. Pre-existing conditions in combination with the cancer, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and patient age, are also factors. (Source)

3. Strategies to Help Manage Chemo Brain. While there are no proven therapies to help with chemo brain, there are some strategies that can help patients cope with the unwanted side effect. Using a daily planner, brain exercises, physical activity, and adequate sleep may be effective. Studies have also shown that eating more vegetables can help increase brain power. Experts who have studied memory recommend that patients suffering from memory lapses follow daily routines, develop set places for commonly misplaced objects, and avoid multitasking to help alleviate their symptoms. Doctors should also encourage patients who notice severe chemo brain symptoms to tell friends and family and to keep a diary of incidents to help pinpoint the source of the problem. (Source)

4. Pharmacologic Therapies to Relieve Symptoms of Chemo Brain. While there is no approved treatment or treatment regimen for chemo brain, there are some medications that may be helpful in improving symptoms. Stimulants like methylphenidate, which is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, may be helpful. Patients may also benefit from donepezil and modafinil, which treat Alzheimer disease and sleep disorders, respectively. (Source)

5. Efficacy of Modafinil for Chemo Brain in Women With Breast Cancer. A small study found that modafinil may improve cognition in women treated for breast cancer. Following 8 weeks of therapy with the drug, researchers found a significant improvement in memory speed, quality of episodic memory, and mean continuity of attention when compared with the placebo arm. The study concluded modafinil may help this population of patients, though confirmation is needed.  (Source)

6. Web-Based Cognitive Behavioral Rehabilitation May Be Effective. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that a web-based cognitive behavioral rehabilitation program was more effective than standard of care in adult cancer patients reporting cognitive symptoms. Those assigned to the intervention arm received a 30-minute phone consultation followed by a 15-week, home-based intervention, and patients in this group reported improvements in cognitive function as well as anxiety/depression and fatigue compared with the standard care group. (Source)

7. Link Between Cancer and Long-Term Cognition. Cancer survivors may have an increased risk for developing long-term cognitive dysfunction, researchers say. One study compared twins in which one sibling had cancer while the other did not. When compared with their cancer-free twins, cancer patients were shown to be more likely to experience cognitive dysfunction and dementia. Despite the lack of statistical significance in the odds ratio, there was a two-fold increase in dementia in the cancer survivor group vs the cancer-free twin group. (Source)

 

See full article at CancerNetwork.com