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Memory Loss from Chemo or Cancer Spreading to the Brain??


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My dad was diagnosed almost 16 months ago with lung cancer. He did very well in the beginning, responding to chemo and never once sick.....until about six weeks ago. Since then, he has lost A LOT of weight, doesn't eat much, has severe neuro??? (numbness in fingers and toes). He finished his chemo a few weeks ago and according to scans, his cancer has been stable since February. He has had so much chemo that he is done for now. He has been given a prescription for Iressa, but hasn't started the drug yet because he feels he isn't well enough to tolerate it, which is true. Anyway, my question is that in the past few weeks my dad's memory is terrible. It's very hard to carry on a conversation, he repeats himself and seems generally very confused. My dad's doctor said that he has given my dad more chemo than he has given anyone else - ever! He handled it so well in the beginning, but now it's all catching up with him. I know chemo can cause memory loss, etc., but his case seems so severe. I'm afraid that the cancer may have spread to the brain, but I'm truly hoping that it's just the massive amount of chemo he's had. What do you guys think? Anyone experience this themselves or with a loved one? Thank you!

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It sounds like your dad has had his share of chemo for a while! I know he will welcome this break and hopefully the Iressa will work for him with few side effects.

I know that chemo can cause "chemo-brain" (we call it chemo-head in my house). I have had a problem with memory since being on chemo. I've not had chemo since February, but still have a hard time remembering things. For instance, we are big movie buffs, before cancer that's what we did on the weekends. Now my husband will ask me "who was in that move ....??? I can't answer those type of questions. It is all a jumble in my head. However, I would definately mention it to your dad's onc. since his symptoms seem to be more severe.

Wishing your dad well and tell him to enjoy the break!


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hi angie,

i'm sorry to hear about your father. i don't know too much about "chemo-brain," but i would suggest a ct scan and/or mri of the brain, just in case. it'll give you piece of mind too. does he have headaches or spells of dizziness? i pray that it is indeed a side effect from chemo and that his health improves steadily. your father certainly has been through a lot (you and the rest of your family too). my prayers and thoughts are with you and your family.

God bless,


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FWIW, it seems to me that all us cancer clubbers who've been through chemo and/or brain radiation have memory loss to some degree. It wouldn't surprise me if your dad, having had more than normal chemo, would have more chemo brain symptoms.

I did a quick Yahoo search for "chemo Brain" and found over 1,000 sites. You may want to look at some there. I've got it and everyone I know who is likewise afflicted has it.

I hope your dad is fine. My oncologist told me it is very common to be paranoid about anything that happens, BUT, to check back with her to make sure.

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FWIW, Chemo brain does improve somewhat over the course of the first couple years, but I don't think you ever get back all of what you had.

But then my friends remind me they aren't now what they were twenty years ago either.....

I guess that means yes I think it's normal to some degree but as always CHECK WITH THE DOCTOR and rule out anything worse.




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