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Transcript: "Memory Issues and Cancer Treatment "

Another common problem that survivors tell us persists after cancer treatment are memory problems. Sometimes these may have begun during an active cancer treatment, or they may occur after treatment has ended. Not being able to remember dates or times or appointments, can't keep a lot of ideas in your head simultaneously--this is very common with cancer treatments. It usually goes away over time but can be very frustrating. Some tips that people use are jotting down notes to yourself, putting them around the house, making sure you have an appointment book. When you are going to do activities, telling yourself steps along the way to do these, and talking to yourself about what reminders are--or asking other people to help you remember things until this improves for you over time.

The kind of problems that we see in memory for survivors after treatment is often called chemo-brain or chemo-fog, so that's sort of one of the tags for it. But it may be due to radiation that somebody has received to the head area, so it's not just limited to chemotherapy. The other thing for older adults is that it is hard sometimes to distinguish between what may be cancer treatment-related and what may be simply a process of aging.

So there again, a dialogue may be important to have with your healthcare provider to say "Is this treatment related and will it go away, or do I need to be concerned that there is something else going on?" That's an important conversation to have, particularly if you are finding that memory problems are disturbing your ability to function in day-to-day life.

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