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Cancer Related Cognitive Impairment ("Chemo Brain"): Home

What Is Cancer Related Cognitive Impairment?

Cancer related cognitive impairment is a term often used to describe brain fog or the cognitive changes associated with the cancer experience. While it is often referred to as "chemo brain", chemotherapy is not the only cause of cancer related cognitive impairment and it can be experienced by any cancer patient, regardless of the kind of treatment they receive. It is estimated that over half of all cancer patients experience some form of cancer related brain fog but its effect can vary greatly from person to person. Symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Mental fog
  • Memory loss
  • Change in verbal skills
  • Change in spatial skills
  • Difficulty paying attention or concentration
  • Difficulty with reasoning or decision making
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Difficulty learning new skills
  • Confusion
  • Slower thinking

Cancer related cognitive impairment can begin during treatment but often lasts beyond treatment. While it is a temporary condition that generally lasts for only a short time, many patients find its effects troublesome. There are coping techniques that can help fight cancer related cognitive impairment. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers if you are concerned about cancer related cognitive impairment or have any questions.


Chemo brain after cancer treatment - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute - 6:00 minutes

"Chemo brain" and "chemo fog" describe memory problems cancer survivors experience after treatment. Learn strategies for dealing with these problems from Dr. Mary-Ellen Meadows of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.


Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center: Chemo Brain Tips - 13:15 minutes

Part of Simple Strategies for Daily Cancer-Related Challenges presented by JamesCare for Life.


Webinar: Goodbye Brain Fog! Strategies to Help Get Your Thinking Back on Track - 1:00 hour

Cancer often causes changes in memory, word retrieval, planning, organization, and the ability to multi-task. These changes can be frustrating and life altering, affecting quality of life and one's ability to function. Fortunately, neurocognitive rehabilitation programs do exist and can help. Neurocognitive expert Heather Palmer, Ph.D explores cancer-related brain fog and teaches simple and effective evidence-based techniques to help people navigate their way back to thinking well.

Books at the Resource Library

These are just a few highlights from the Resource Library collection. Please click here to search our online catalog. For more information about the Resource Library and how to borrow materials, visit our website

Support Groups

The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center's Oncology Social Work Services offers many support groups to help patients cope with life with cancer. All programs are offered free-of-charge and are facilitated by professional staff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, support groups are currently meeting online via Zoom. For more information including how to register, see the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center calendar or email Rosario Campuzano-Cortez at

Tools for Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
This group provides a safe place for those who are newly diagnosed with cancer to share and learn coping skills for the cancer journey. The group will discuss common issues that affect most people when they are initially diagnosed, such as shock, sharing the diagnosis or not, regaining control, dealing with a new self-image, living with uncertainty, and more.

3rd Thursday of each month, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
For upcoming dates and times, check the Cancer Center calendar.

Life After Cancer Treatment: Discovering Your New Normal
This group provides a safe place where cancer experiences can be shared and where tools to manage life more effectively during and after cancer treatment will be introduced. Individuals who are one year past diagnosis are welcome to attend.

1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, 12:00 noon - 1:15 pm
For upcoming dates and times, check the Cancer Center calendar.

Resources provided by the Cancer Resource Library are for informational purposes only. The information in these materials may or may not apply to your specific condition, and should not be construed as medical advice. We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider to review anything you learn through these resources.

Ridley-Tree Cancer Center provides comprehensive cancer treatment and support programs for patients and families. We are recognized for medical excellence, a strong clinical research program, and a multidisciplinary approach to cancer prevention.

Cancer Resource Library | 540 West Pueblo Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 | (805) 563-5807 | |