Most Leukemia Patients Recover From 'Chemo Brain' After
FRIDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- A decline in memory and
fine-motor skills is common among patients who undergo a bone
marrow or stem cell transplant to treat leukemia or lymphoma, but
most patients return to normal within five years, according to a
Previous research has shown that the chemotherapy drugs these
patients take before transplantation and medicines they take to
prevent rejection of the transplanted cells can affect memory and
motor skills. This study looked at how long it takes them to
recover from those problems, often referred to as "chemo
The study included 92 patients with chronic myeloid leukemia,
acute leukemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome, in which the
bone marrow does not function normally. The patients had received
an allogeneic (cells donated by another person) bone marrow or stem
After treatment, the patients' memory and motor skills were
assessed. Most patients showed substantial improvement in
neurocognitive function between one and five years after their
But deficits, described as mostly mild, persisted for five years
in nearly 42 percent of the patients, a finding that surprised the
researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in
"We really thought the rates would be lower," study leader Karen Syrjala, director of Biobehavioral Sciences, said in a Hutchinson news release. "We were thrilled to see that people recovered substantially, but we also were surprised that so many people did continue to have measurable deficits in some areas even after five years."
Further research is needed to identify the reasons for these
persistent deficits, she added.
The study was published May 2 online in the
Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
bone marrow and stem cell transplant.
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