Helping Cancer Patients Cope With Cognitive Changes“Foggy” thinking after cancer treatment is no myth — and now there’s hope.
It’s not unusual for cancer treatment to affect a person’s mental processes or cognition. After treatment, some people have difficulty remembering, learning new things, concentrating, making judgments, solving problems and juggling tasks, among other problems.
In a new clinic just for cancer patients, experts are tracking a person’s cognitive abilities before, during and after chemotherapy and other treatments. Medical College of Wisconsin Neuropsychologist David Sabsevitz, PhD, heads the effort in the new Neuro-oncology Cognitive Clinic at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.
“Cognition is complex,” Dr. Sabsevitz said. “Many factors can cause changes, such as cancer itself, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, medications, hormones and emotional issues. Not everyone will experience cognitive changes. For those who do, the changes can be temporary or persistent and can range from mild to severe. That’s why evaluation of cognitive ability before treatment is so important. Once we establish a baseline, we monitor changes — and we do everything possible to optimize each person’s cognitive functions and quality of life. Without this baseline, judging mental change is difficult.”
Dr. Sabsevitz works with other Medical College of Wisconsin physicians — neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and neuro-oncologists — to coordinate care. He also provides extensive education, so patients understand how a tumor, chemotherapy or radiation treatment may affect mental function. “This helps people make informed decisions about treatment,” he said.
Source: Froedtert Today
Date: October 2007