New Help for Cancer Survivors Suffering from "Chemobrain," An Under-Reported and Under-Treated Side Effect

CancerCare Provides Free Educational Materials to Fill Void of Information

NEW YORK , N.Y., May 4, 2006 — As cancer survivorship rates continue to rise, a national patient advocacy organization is calling attention to one of the most under-recognized and undertreated long-term side effects of cancer and its treatment: chemobrain. CancerCare released results of its chemobrain focus group this week at the annual conference of the Association of Oncology Social Work, along with a series of free educational fact sheets on the topic.

Chemobrain is characterized by post-treatment difficulties with memory, attention, and other cognitive skills. CancerCare’s study said that as cancer survivors are living longer, they are more frequently identifying chemobrain as a pressing problem that interferes with their ability to function in many important areas of their lives, such as managing child care, career, and running a household.

“There is a significant lack of resources for cancer survivors about how to recognize and address chemobrain. Importantly, cancer patients are not routinely informed about this possible treatment side effect, which can have a major impact on their quality of life,” said Diane Blum, MSW, executive director of CancerCare. “CancerCare is proud to provide these free educational fact sheets to patients suffering from chemobrain in the hopes of both helping them cope, and calling attention to this under-recognized problem.”

CancerCare focus group participants, all of whom experienced chemobrain after treatment, provided feedback on the content, style and format of the CancerCare fact sheets. Based on their suggestions, the materials were revised to make them more helpful to people with chemobrain. Four fact sheets now exist in CancerCare’s Chemobrain Information Series: “Cognitive Problems After Chemotherapy,” “Doctor, Can We Talk About Chemobrain?,” “Ways to Improve Concentration,” and “Keeping Your Memory Sharp.”

All fact sheets may be downloaded from CancerCare’s website, www.cancercare.org, or ordered by calling 800-813 HOPE (4673). The chemobrain focus group and subsequent materials were made possible by a grant from the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

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