Phadke leads pilot study into “chemo brain”

Sneha Phadke, DO, assistant clinical professor in Hematology, Oncology and Blood & Marrow Transplantation and a breast medical oncologist at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center (HCCC), is investigating the cognitive deficits that occur following chemotherapy, which has often been called “chemo brain.” Last month, Phadke and associate research scientist Kanchna Ramchandran, MS, PhD, were awarded an Institutional Research Grant from the American Cancer Society (via the HCCC) to learn more about it.

“Patients will often say they feel old or they feel like their brain has aged in some way,” Phadke said. “They can no longer multitask. They can’t remember things as well. They just have trouble functioning even at work. Chemo brain is a catchall term for these symptoms.”

With these pilot grant funds, the team is working to identify what a chemo brain diagnosis means and what criteria is required for the diagnosis based on objective changes.

“One of the tough parts about diagnosing chemo brain is there aren’t any diagnostic criteria,” Phadke said. “Things like anxiety, sleep deprivation, fatigue, and lots of other issues can confound that diagnosis, making it really hard to know if someone truly has chemo brain or if there are other issues contributing.”

In addition to observable changes indicating the presence of chemo brain at the cellular level, the researchers will look at potential treatment options. “Or even better,” Phadke said, “preventing it.”

7 Responses

  1. Marlo Hoaglan

    This is wonderful news. I am fighting lung cancer stage 4, that has metastasized to my brain. I had brain surgery to remove the cancer in my brain a year-and-a-half ago with no problems whatsoever. I was up and walking around the very next day. I was very blessed. I am fighting the lung cancer but I suffer from chemo brain terribly. I am 51 years old and I can’t think of words that I want to say. It’s like they’re on the tip of my tongue but I just don’t know what they are. I forget things very easily. I cannot multitask. My organization is horrible. I used to be very good at all of these things and everybody’s to say I have the memory of an elephant because I didn’t forget anything. I’m no longer that way chemo brain… I wish you all the luck with this research and pray that you can help us and maybe prevent it for others before it begins.

  2. Nancy Collins

    It is great you are working on this. After watching my brother go through chemo. Chemo brain is a huge factor. I was amazed how the chemo affected so many factors. Thanks for making this your focus.

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