Cognitive changes and 'chemo brain'

Cognitive changes are problems with thinking, memory and behaviour. These effects are often referred to as ‘chemo brain’, even though they may be related to other treatments or even the cancer itself (particularly brain cancers). And not everyone who has chemotherapy has cognitive changes.

Cognitive changes could include:

  • trouble concentrating
  • reduced levels of consciousness
  • disrupted sleep patterns
  • memory loss, especially short term memory loss
  • hallucinations

Cognitive changes may occur at different times, like:

  • during chemotherapy
  • gradually over the span of your treatment
  • right after surgery
  • suddenly after treatment

The good news is cognitive changes improve with time. Changes that occur because of certain medications will normally stop once you no longer need to take the medicines.