“Chemo brain” battling the red devil

Health Watch

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Brain fog, also called chemo brain or cognitive decline, refers to problems with memory and attention following chemotherapy treatment for cancer. The American Academy of Neurology reports that chemo brain currently affects about 75 percent of cancer patients and so far there has been no clear evidence as to why. Now, researchers are investigating the cause of this debilitating side effect.

Chemotherapy, a life-saving treatment for cancer patients can also come with side effects of its own. Trouble with attention, focus, tiredness, and memory recall. This is what doctors call brain fog, or chemo brain.

“It’s a general term like a layman term, we say, ‘Oh my brain is foggy and I’m feeling clarity is not there,’” explained Dinender K. Singla, PhD, FAHA, FIACS, FAPS, professor and head of the division of metabolic and cardiovascular sciences at University of Central Florida College of Medicine Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, endowed chair at Advent Health and secretary of the North American Section of International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences.

Researchers have discovered one of the most effective anti-cancer drugs, doxorubicin is a life saving treatment, but it has also been, nick-named the “Red Devil” for its bright color and harsh side effects in the heart and muscles. Professor Singla found that exposure to doxorubicin causes a tangling of neurons and holes in brain cells. Even long after treatment has ended.

“They are living cured from cancer, but now are having this neurotoxicity, or Alzheimer’s disease, or some other dementia,” elaborated Professor Singla.

“They are not showing the effects immediately, they can show that effect up to one month, six months, six years, or ten years,” Professor Singla expressed.

The American Cancer Society reports that there are currently 15 million cancer survivors in the U.S. that have been exposed to chemotherapy treatment. Professor Singla says that cancer used to be a terminal disease, but now that it is treatable and manageable, the next step is to eliminate the side effects of treatment.

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