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Chemo Brain and Breast Cancer


The mental cloudiness experienced before, during and after chemotherapy is often called “chemo brain.” These mental and cognitive difficulties associated with treatment can be a frustrating side effect.

Symptoms of Chemo Brain

Women report symptoms such as:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Forgetting details
  • Searching for common words

Some have a subtle, short-lasting experience. For others, chemo brain happens immediately and can last a long time. Many fall somewhere in between.

Coping with Chemo Brain

If you believe you are experiencing chemo brain, use these tips to help you cope:

  • Use a daily planner or electronic device to keep track of your daily schedule and personal contacts. Keeping “to-do” lists can also help you stay organized and provide reminders.
  • Regular physical activity not only makes your body stronger, it decreases tiredness, improves your mood and can make you feel more alert.
  • Like a physical workout, a positive mental workout like word or math puzzles or an interesting class may help to exercise your brain.
  • Reduce stress where possible.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Make an effort to focus even when it may be difficult. Try to avoid distractions during tasks.
  • Strive to keep your home and workspaces organized so you can find things in familiar places.
  • Identify the times, situations and places where you have problems. Journaling or keeping a written record of your memory problems might help you figure out strategies of your own.

Talk to your healthcare provider for more information, especially if your symptoms persist, worsen or seem more serious than what you expected.

Stay Organized

Download one of our planning worksheets to help you keep track of your appointments, medications and follow-up care.

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