An overview of chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction, or 'chemobrain'

Oncology (Williston Park). 2014 Sep;28(9):797-804.


Chemotherapy can improve prospects for long-term survival after a cancer diagnosis, but it may also be associated with long-term toxicity, including the possibility of cognitive dysfunction. While a variety of factors may contribute to cognitive impairment in cancer survivors, there is increasing evidence that chemotherapy contributes to both subjective and objective changes in cognition. These effects appear to be most pronounced in the short-term, with improvement over time expected for most patients. Pharmacologic treatments do not have proven value in the management of chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction, but patients may benefit from cognitive rehabilitation. Clinical guidelines are needed for assessment and management of chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life