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Can Oncol Nurs J. 2008 Fall;18(4):180-92.

Patients' experiences with cognitive changes after chemotherapy.

[Article in English, French]

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Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre.


Being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment can be a daunting experience. The side effects of treatment often influence a person's quality of life. One side effect that has been identified more recently is known as "chemobrain." Although attempts have been made to quantify and measure cognitive changes, little attention has been paid to describing the changes from the patient's viewpoint. This investigation was undertaken to understand the impact of cognitive changes on daily living and to identify the strategies patients used to cope with "chemobrain." Thirty-two individuals provided in-depth interviews about their experiences living with cognitive changes. Their descriptions provided clear evidence that the changes could effect daily living, social and work-related activities. About a quarter of the individuals expected the changes to be temporary while the rest were uncertain or expected the change to be permanent. The emotional distress people experienced was linked to whether or not the cognitive changes interfered with their doing something that was of importance to them. Overall, participants used a variety of strategies to cope with the changes. The most frequently identified strategy was "writing everything down." When asked what nurses could do to assist them in managing this side effect, participants emphasized how important it is for them to have information about the potential for cognitive change at the beginning of their treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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