Breast Cancer News of Note: Potential Therapy for ‘Chemo Brain’

November 22, 2023

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‘Chemo brain’ can be a common experience for individuals that are or have received chemo treatment. American Cancer Society defined ‘chemo brain’ as “cancer treatment-related cognitive impairment, cancer-related cognitive change, or post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment.” (2020) Symptoms can vary for individuals, but American Cancer Society stated the following experiences:

  • Forgetting things that they usually have no trouble remembering (memory lapses)
  • Trouble concentrating (they can’t focus on what they’re doing, have a short attention span, may easily “space out”)
  • Trouble remembering details like names, dates, and sometimes larger events
  • Trouble multi-tasking, like answering the phone while cooking, without losing track of one task (they’re less able to do more than one thing at a time)
  • Trouble learning new things
  • Taking longer to finish things (disorganized, slower thinking and processing)
  • Trouble remembering common words (unable to find the right words to finish a sentence (ACA, 2020).

Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center conducted a study that may have identified a potential cause for “chemo brain”. Researchers stated, “an excess of calcium floating around inside cells,” may lead to “chemo brain” (Columbia University Irving Medical Center, 2023). Calcium is responsible for allowing us to move our muscles and to think due to nerves sending messages to our brain (National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, 2023). During testing to further analyze if there is a possible leak of calcium, researchers identified that after receiving chemotherapy treatment, there were calcium leaks. This led to cognitive impairment within the research subjects (Columbia University Irving Medical Center, 2023). Andrew Marks, MD, author of the study, stated that a potential new drug may lessen cognitive impairments for individuals experiencing “chemo brain” following chemotherapy treatment. The next steps, if approved, will be clinical trials to further assist in addressing this experience.

To read the full published research article, click here.


American Cancer Society. (2023). Chemo brain. Retrieved from

Columbia University Irving Medical Center. (2023, October 19). Research implicates calcium in ‘chemobrain,’ pointing the way toward potential therapy. Medical Xpress. Retrieved from

National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplement. (2023). Calcium – face sheet for consumers. Retrieved from,many%20functions%20in%20your%20body.



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