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Chemo brain

If you are having chemotherapy as part of your breast cancer treatment, you may experience a sensation of feeling vague or mildly confused. You may also find it difficult to concentrate.

The terms ‘chemo brain’ or ‘chemo fog’ are often used to describe these feelings.

What causes ‘chemo brain’?

While chemo brain is a very real experience for many people undergoing chemotherapy, very little research has been done on it. Possible causes for chemo brain include:

  • the stress of the cancer diagnosis
  • the chemotherapy treatment itself
  • hormonal changes
  • the ‘natural’ ageing process.

How can I manage ‘chemo brain’?

Some women find that doing crosswords, Sudoku or other mind-exercising puzzles helps them to feel more alert and improve their memory. Other suggestions to help you manage chemo brain include:

  • making lists of things you need to do
  • using computer and mobile phone based reminders
  • taking time to relax and wind down
  • getting enough sleep.
I really began to worry when I noticed I was forgetting things. I started doing crosswords, which helped me to focus. I also found that my diary became my best friend! – Anna

More information

  • The Chemotherapy page provides more information on chemotherapy and its side effects