Monday, December 3, 2012

Physiological Explanation for "Chemo Brain" Suggested

Some cancer patients who receive chemotherapy complain that their brains don't function as well as they used to. A physiological basis for such so-called "chemo brain" complaints now may have been identified. The finding was reported at a recent Radiological Society of North America meeting by Rachel Lagos, D.O., a diagnostic radiology resident at West Virginia University. Lagos and her colleagues used PET/CT brain imaging as well as special software to compare brain metabolism after chemotherapy with brain metabolism before chemotherapy in 128 breast cancer patients. Results showed two brain regions with decreased metabolism post-chemotherapy—the superior medial frontal gyrus and the temporal operculum.

"The superior medial frontal gyrus is known to be responsible for prioritizing, problem-solving, and organizing," Lagos told Psychiatric News. "The temporal operculum is responsible for long-term memory. Chemotherapy patients who describe 'chemo brain' often describe deficits in these tasks."

More information about "chemo brain" and the broader interface between cancer and psychiatry can be found in Psychiatric News here and here.

(Image: Dim Dimitch/


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