Chemotherapy induced cognitive impairment, otherwise known in colloquial terms chemo brain or chemo fog, is now a widely researched topic stemming from the increased utilization of chemotherapy in patients suffering from cancer. While it is known that certain types of cancers are treated with specific types of chemotherapy drugs or an array of drugs, no two cancers are alike. For example, someone that has been diagnosed with a glandular type of cancer would receive drug X, but another patient with the same type of cancer could receive drug Y. The difference between the two patients relies on a myriad of other outlying factors that are based on the patient’s levels of tolerance. The drug itself is designed to react and eventually kill
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(Ian F. Tannock, 2004) The Canadian workshop also concluded “Current studies indicate that cognitive deficits are often subtle, although they are observed consistently in a proportion of patients, may be durable, and can be disabling. Deficits have been observed in a range of cognitive functions.” (Ian F. Tannock, 2004). Studies conducted by van Dam et al. (van Dam, 1998) found that breast cancer patients that received regular high-dose chemotherapy compared to those patients receiving a lower or standard dose of chemotherapy were over eight times as likely to have a noticeable impairment in cognition. But, it isn’t just the chemo that links cognitive impairment to cancer treatment. Tim Ahles, a cognitive psychologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York also stated, “There are issues like age, stress, anxiety and depression that can factor in. If anything, it has become more complicated than we realized” (Hede, 2008).
Up to this point we know that chemotherapy kills fast growing cells, but when we look at the brain or more notable the neurons that make up the brain, we know that those cells are slower to grow and reproduce. Neurogenesis is the process of reproducing those neurons from neural stem cells. Neurons that originate from the hippocampus region of the brain are thought to be finite soon after birth, but more recent studies show otherwise. “Hippocampal neurogenesis appears crucial for at least some hippocampal-dependent memory