"Doctor, Can We Talk About Chemobrain?"

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This fact sheet answers questions about chemobrain and how patients can communicate to their health care team about it.
This fact sheet answers questions about chemobrain and how patients can communicate to their health care team about it.

This fact sheet is part of CancerCare's Chemobrain Information Series.

Talking to your doctor can be difficult, especially about symptoms of chemobrain. Not all health care professionals know how to evaluate chemobrain, and many may be unfamiliar with the resources that are available to help.

If you have problems with memory and attention, or other difficulties related to chemobrain, speaking with your doctor is an important first step in getting the care you need.

Here are some tips for communicating with your doctor about chemobrain:

When you use the word “chemobrain,” your doctor may not be familiar with it. Tell him or her that chemobrain refers to cognitive problems after chemotherapy.

Bring someone with you. It is always helpful to have a second set of ears, especially if you have trouble remembering information.

Write a list of the specific problems you are having and try to keep the descriptions short. For example: “I can't remember words,” or “It's very hard for me to concentrate.”

Keep a journal to help you remember your symptoms. Come prepared with information about when your symptoms started and if they are getting better or worse.

Write down the answers you get. This way, you can go over the information later when you have time to research and concentrate.

If possible, bring a tape recorder. It is okay to ask your doctor if you can record your visit.

Show your doctor the CancerCare‘ fact sheet “Cognitive Problems after Chemotherapy.” Ask your doctor about what he or she knows about resources in your community.

Get a second opinion if your doctor doesn't seem to take your thinking and memory problems seriously. Your difficulties might go away, but if they persist, these symptoms should be evaluated by a neuropsychologist.

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