Difficulty with concentration and memory


People with cancer report memory, concentration and attention problems after chemotherapy. This is sometimes called “chemo brain.” Many survivors report they have problems paying attention, finding the right word, or remembering new things.

Research is starting to explore why some people develop problems with memory and concentration while others don't. People who have had chemotherapy or have had radiation to the head area are at higher risk for these problems.

Cancer patients should speak to their physician or nurse if they:

  • Have memory and thinking problems
  • Think a medicine could be causing or adding to the problem
  • Suffer from depression or anxiety, which can cause problems with concentration and memory

Support groups can be helpful when transitioning from active treatment to survivorship, allowing you to talk to others who may have similar experiences. In addition, professional counseling is available at both the Abramson Cancer Center and the Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Learn more about difficulty with concentration and memory during cancer treatment.