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'Chemo Brain': Cancer's Diverse Effect from Treatment; What You Need to Know about It and Its Potential Cure [VIDEO]

Update Date: Apr 18, 2017 09:22 PM EDT
Terminal Cancer Patient Advocates For Death With Dignity Law In NY
Terminal Cancer Patient Advocates For Death With Dignity Law In NY (Photo : John Moore)

Cancer treatment comes in many forms but chemotherapy is the most commonly available. Through this, patients are prescribed with drugs that destroy cancer cells but it does not come without a risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are currently 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States alone. Mostly, these patients have undergone chemotherapy to fend off cancer cells from spreading. However, its diverse effects are taking a toll on the patients' lives with effects such as cognitive impairment or 'Chemo Brain', the Medical News Today reports.

The American Cancer Society explains that chemo brain is a symptom, a diverse effect that cancer patients experience in association with chemotherapy. This is displayed with the difficulty of processing information, distraction, forgetfulness of recent events, feeling of being mentally slower than the usual, and the inability to hold concentration on simple and easy tasks.

To help aide patients with these effects, the American Chemical Society and an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Michael Johnson, presented scientific studies suggesting a potential new treatment for this chemotherapy-associated cognitive impairment or chemo brain.

 Why Chemotherapy Affects The Brain

Johnson examined the brain chemistry behind this dysfunction. Johnson, in collaboration with the Department of Applied Behavioral Science colleagues, reveals that a common chemotherapy drug called 5-Fluorouracil damages the Myelin, the protective layer made of fats and proteins that form around the brain cells.

With the myelin damaged, it then corresponds to having neurodegenerative deficits in the brain area that is a key to learning and memory that's why patients experience symptoms of chemo brain.

'KU-32' Drug

To test their study, they used rodents as models of the case and they found out that hydrogen peroxide- a potentially damaging oxygen specie on the cognitive function- increases in the brain of the chemotherapy-treated rats. Because of this, Johnson and his team suggest that a drug called KU-32 may prevent cognitive impairment to patients since the drug prevents the increase of hydrogen peroxide production.

According to Johnson, these studies might certainly be important for researchers interested in developing therapies for chemo brain as well as to those who might want to know the impacts of cognitive function. He added that the findings of this study and the suggested drug for chemo brain treatment may pave the way for treating chemotherapy's diverse effects.

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