Expert Highlights Common Signs of Chemo Brain

Chemotherapy treatment can affect a person’s memory, leading to a condition commonly referred to as chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment, or, more commonly, “chemo brain.”

According to Jennifer Cargile, a speech-language pathologist at City of Hope in Atlanta, explained some of the common signs of short-term memory deficits caused by chemotherapy treatment, such as losing or forgetting belongings and forgetting to pay bills.

READ MORE:Acknowledging Cancer-Related Cognitive Impairment May Be Best Treatment for Breast Cancer Survivors Versus Physical, Mindfulness Exercises


I find a lot of short-term memory deficits in terms of forgetting where they put their belongings. I have a lot of patients report that it takes them five or six times to actually get out of their house.

They go to their car, and they’re like, “Oh, where’s my keys?” So they get back in, they grab the keys, they come back out, they go, “Oh, no, I didn’t get my wallet.” They go back in, they come back out like, “I did, I lock the door?” They go back in. And so they say it takes them five or six times to actually get out the door each day.

They (also) misplace belongings. So it could be that or (thinking), they can’t remember where they put their glasses or cell phone goes missing. I had a patient yesterday tell me she’s lost her debit card three times in the last two months, (and she) had to order a new debit card. So those are examples of short-term memory deficit that you may see.

The other issue also with short-term memory is forgetting to pay bills. This is a big one. And I have a lot of patients show up in my office because they paid bills all their lives, and suddenly they’re missing bills. So when I say “Have you had trouble paying your bills?” (They respond) “Oh my gosh, yeah. How did you know that?” So that’s just another example the short-term memory deficit they may be experiencing.

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