Clearing the air: a review of our current understanding of "chemo fog"

Curr Oncol Rep. 2013 Jun;15(3):260-9. doi: 10.1007/s11912-013-0307-7.


An increasing number of cancer survivors has led to a greater interest in the long-term side effects of cancer treatments and their impact on quality of life. In particular, cognitive impairments have been frequently reported by cancer survivors as an adverse effect which they attribute to the neurotoxicity of chemotherapy and have dubbed "chemobrain" or "chemo fog." Research within the past 15-20 years has explored the many factors thought to contribute to cancer-related cognitive decline in an attempt to determine a potential cause. In spite of many confounding factors, there is growing evidence that the neurotoxicity of chemotherapy does contribute to cognitive changes. This review examines the evolution of "chemo fog" research with a look at methodological issues, the status of our current understanding, and suggestions for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / prevention & control
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Neuroprotective Agents