Breast Cancer survivors are more likely to have cognitive difficulties than their non-cancer counterparts

A study published last week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer reported an increase in cognitive decline than women of same age who had not undergone treatment for breast cancer.

Cognition refers to brain activity that encompasses short and long term memory loss, memory recall, problem solving and learning. In the cancer setting the struggle to find words, being forgetful more than usual or zoning out is often colloquially called “Chemo-brain” or “chemo-fog.” Chemo-brain is quite common, and for those who have or had it, know the stress it can cause by not being as on-the-ball as they use to be.

This study can provide reassurance and validation for those who feel their brain isn’t working as actively as it used to. It can also provide the evidence required for healthcare professionals to inform them that people who have a cancer diagnosis may need extra support to retain new information.

Read the full article here

Do you or someone you know experience chemo-brain or chemo-fog? We would love to hear from you. Email our Nurse, Elizabeth, at


  1. Judith on

    Took me 3 years to realize I was not suffering the onset of dementia. I find that crossword puzzles, lots of all reading but especially books that require problem solving, scrabble.....all of these are like exercises for the brain. Oh I still suffer sometimes but I don't take it as seriously as I once's my new part of an !already flaky sense of humor!

  2. Lucy on

    I wish there was more research done on cognitive decline in cancer patients who have not had chemo. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago, had surgery, radiotherapy and am now on Tamoxifen. I am 47 and have the memory of a 147 year old with dementia. Neither my GP or oncologist take it seriously, they just give platitudes and smile benignly. It is a real problem that affects too many people. I hope this article helps.

  3. Marty on

    The struggle is real, and because some haven't heard of it think it's non existent. Cancer and chemo causes brain fog! I had a PCP that wanted me to go see a Behavior counselor and put me on an antidepressant for having anxiety for this very thing! Being an RN with this is scary! Who wants a nurse that can't remember things? And the more i worry about it the worse it is.

  4. Andrea on

    Yes, names are awful, short term memory is quite bad , but I am alive and grateful

  5. Carole Preston on

    I had treatment for breast cancer in 2014 and still struggle with memory, spatial awareness and concentration, other women just say "well its menopause, it happens at your age" but at just 52 I feel I function less well than my peers. As a community nurse and with longer to go before I can retire I really struggle.
    It is useful to know the reason why but would be better if there was help.

  6. Melanie on

    Oh my gosh I am so relieved to read this, I have really been thinking it's my age and I am 53 January 28th. It's so really really true and embarrassing. I am five years down the line now. My son got married Aug 2015 and I said a speech and I called his new win by the name of the chief briedsesmaid! , everyone laughed including the bride but I was so so embarrassed . Thank you for reassuring me .

  7. Debbie Quinn on

    I had my last of six chemo sessions in March 2016. My brain is still foggy and forgetful, disconcertingly so. I make appointments and without an alarm I don't remember any of them.

  8. carol watkins on

    I had this after chemo for breast cancer it is combined with the change of life medication depression and diet leaving you feeling total lost thinking you are going mad only people who have had it can understand what you are going through and knowing it will never go away makes you worry more about getting older if gods willing if i ever got told i need it again i will refuse chemo.

  9. Alison penny on

    I've had 2 brain tumours over 11 years I've had them removed. I've had chemo twice and radiotherapy. I now have another brain tumour diagnosed in 2014 . They all started of as slow growing,low grade but this one is a grade 3 but is very small ATM . I totally changed my diet and started exercising to try and help keep it small.
    I suffer with memory loss and when in a conversation I find it difficult to find the word I'm trying to think of, which can be very frustrating at times and especially when people are rushing you to remember.
    Playing games I know the answer but I can't find it in the time as my head is foggy and this is the word I have always used but nobody has ever told me FOG BRAIN was real . Learning this had made me feel normal and I'm not going mad at times or getting really old before my time!!
    Thank goodness for Facebook at times as I would still would not know. And Thank you for posting it Alison 😊

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