Cancer-Related Brain Fog

Dec 12, 2019 | Lonnie Fynskov | @lonniefynskov

shutterstock_536001130Earlier this month I highlighted a presentation on cancer-related brain fog:
Since this presentation was not available at the other Mayo Clinic sites or electronically, I wanted to share the following key messages:

Cancer-Related Brain Fog

What is it?

  • Cancer-related cognitive impairment or difficulty with thought processes
  • Described as “slower thinking, easily fatigued or problems with memory”

What are some of the challenges of “brain fog?”

  • Difficulty learning new information
  • Takes longer to complete tasks
  • Multitasking is very challenging
  • “Word finding” may be a problem

What are some of the causes of “brain fog?”

  • The cancer illness itself
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Sleep problems
  • Pain/Mood challenges
  • Medications
  • Individual genetics and/or personal hormone fluctuations

What can you do about it?

First, recognize cognitive changes are very real! It is important to address the factors you can modify and have some control over. Having reasonable expectations is key!

  • Reclaim a sense of “control” through energy management, sleep habits, appropriate exercise.
  • Utilize memory aids such as a journal or notebook for lists, questions, and important information
  • Schedule “brain breaks.” Every hour, take a 10 minute break from what you are doing and relax.
  • Share your situation with people you trust
  • Listen to your body and get into the routine of doing something again.
  • Consider redefining your “new normal.”

What has been your experience with brain fog?  Are there any techniques that have been helpful?

Connect with others managing cancer-related brain fog and other symptoms in the online support group Cancer: Managing Symptoms.


Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Cancer Education blog.

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