Chemotherapy, Long Term Brain Impairment
According to an article in today's Scientific American's Science News, new studies show that chemotherapy promotes a lingering intellectual deficit. Here's a quote from the article.
"More people survive cancer than ever before. With early detection, for example, women stricken with breast cancer are often successfully treated and go on to live long lives. But concomitant with this cheering rise in cancer survival is a worrying increase in complaints about cognitive impairment as life goes on. Some cancer survivors have trouble with concentration or fatigue. New research shows this is not just in their minds but, in fact, in their brains...It remains a mystery how chemotherapy--and tamoxifen--impact the brain, but it is increasingly clear that these treatments may create a cognitive deficit."
The real question is why the researchers were so surprised. Let's be clear here. Chemotherapy is an indiscriminant treatment. It assaults the body with highly toxic poisons and attacks and damages every single cell in the body, which is why it has so many side effects. The hope with chemotherapy is that it ultimately kills the cancer cells before it kills you. And although it definitely has produced some success, particularly in younger people (its benefits diminish rapidly as you age), much of its touted success is the result of statistical manipulation.
I am not saying to never choose chemotherapy. I'm just saying to know all the facts. What are the odds of success with your particular cancer? What are the odds of success with your particular age group? What are the likely side effects with your particular treatment? (Note: many chemotherapy drugs do not cross the blood brain barrier, but the following ones certainly do: Carmustine, Lomustine, Procarbazine, Temozolomide, Cisplatin, and Carboplatin.) And if you do opt for treatment, make sure you aggressively rebuild your body once the treatment is over. At best chemotherapy is an interesting choice.
It's worth remembering, as a point of perspective, no one ever got cancer because they were suffering from a chemotherapy deficiency.