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Kicking Chemobrain to the Curb

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http://www.ivanhoe.com/channels/p_chann ... ryid=12361

Reported October 24, 2005

CINCINNATI (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Cancer patients often experience fatigue and memory loss from treatment with chemotherapy. It's called "chemobrain," and there's no FDA-approved treatment for it. Now, a new study uncovers a drug that could help.

Melissa Norber's boys love to skateboard. But watching them do it while studying is something she couldn't have done a year ago. "It was hard on my children. It was hard on my husband because I couldn't function, and I couldn't do the things that I wanted to do. I wasn't happy because of that."

After undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, Melissa was left with chemobrain, a condition that made fatigue and memory loss part of everyday life. She took part in a study led by Elyse Lower, M.D., a hematologist/oncologist at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. It's the first trial to test a drug's effect on chemobrain symptoms. The drug under study is dexmethylphenidate and is in the Ritalin family.

"At the conclusion of the study, we found that there was a 33-percent improvement in fatigue for those patients who received dexmethylphenidate compared to those patients who received placebo," Dr. Lower tells Ivanhoe.

It also improved memory. It works, but doctor lower isn't exactly sure how. For patients like Melissa, how it works is not as important as that it works. She says: "I rewired the lamp post outside, the fireplace fan and the garage door. I fixed it all, in one day."

And Melissa's not the only one who's noticed the change. Her son, Ryan, says, "It makes me happier now that she's fine."

Melissa is now an honors student and taking life one day at a time.

Dr. Lower says some patients did experience mild side effects like headaches. Also, since the majority of study participants were female breast cancer patients, additional studies will need to be conducted.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Sheryl Hilton

Medical Center Public Relations

University of Cincinnati Medical Center

PO Box 670550 - 165 Health Professions Building

Cincinnati, OH 45267

(513) 558-4561



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