Peripheral Neuropathy & Neurological Symptoms:
Brain tumor and CNS cancer can cause significant neurological morbidity. Both the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system are susceptible to the effects of the disease. The cancers can metastasize to the spine and in many cases can cause spinal cord compression or cord transection due to the involvement of the vertebra in cancer. It can also affect coagulation or cause hyper-coagulability and cause cerebrovascular issues. Some of the neurological symptoms include jerky or uncontrolled movements, tingling sensation on one side of the body and muscle weakness in face or arm. In cases where the spinal cord or nerve root is involved, patients may also experience issues with bladder control and bowel movements. Tumors may result in sensory loss or changes in deep tendon reflexes. Extra-ocular nerve involvement can also cause facial sensory deficits.
Abnormal Physiological Changes: Large Limbs And Irregular Periods
If your hands and feet are suddenly getting larger, even after youve crossed the growth years, scan for a pituitary tumor.
A tumor in the pituitary gland can cause irregular periods, excessive production of breast milk, development of breasts in men, and excessive body hair. It may also lead to the enlargement of your hands and feet, obesity, and changes in your blood pressure.12 A drooping eyelid or a drooping mouth can indicate a tumor in the brain stem.
Children With Attention Thinking And Memory Problems
Children age 5 and younger are more likely to have long-term problems with attention, thinking, and memory after cancer treatment. These problems can happen months or years after treatment ends and may continue until the child is an adult.
Some treatments are more likely to cause attention, thinking, and memory problems. For example, radiation therapy, especially to the head, neck, or spinal cord, and chemotherapy given directly in the spine or brain.
Unlike adults, children are receiving treatments at the time their brains are developing. After treatment, some children may experience:
Problems with learning
Shorter attention span than normal, or attention deficit disorders
Slower social, emotional, and behavioral development
Less ability to understand what is said or put thoughts together in a way that makes sense
Lower memory skills
There are many treatments for children with attention, thinking, and memory problems. These include occupational therapy, speech therapy, behavior therapy, social skills training, cognitive rehabilitation, and medication for attention deficit disorders. Your child may need to use different ways to learn and pay attention.
Other options include specific lessons in reading and math or special education programs. Starting early seems to help the most. So it is important to know the signs of attention, thinking, and memory problems. Talk with your child’s health care team as soon as you suspect a problem.
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Cancer Treatments Or Other Diseases May Cause Cognitive Problems
- Older age.
- Having emotional distress, such as anxiety or depression.
- Having certain symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, or trouble sleeping.
- Having other diseases or conditions.
- Using alcohol or other substances that change your mental state.
Location Of The Tumour
Different areas of the brain control different functions, so the symptoms of a brain tumour will depend on where it’s located.
For example, a tumour affecting the:
- frontal lobe may cause changes in personality, weakness in one side of the body, and loss of smell
- temporal lobe may cause memory loss language problems , and seizures
- parietal lobe may cause aphasia, numbness or weakness in one side of the body, and co-ordination problems , such as difficulty dressing
- occipital lobe may cause loss of vision on one side of the visual field
- cerebellum may cause balance problems , flickering of the eyes , and vomiting
- brain stem may cause unsteadiness and difficulty walking, facial weakness, double vision, and difficulty speaking and swallowing
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Signs Of Confusion And Delirium
If a patient becomes confused or you suspect delirium, call the cancer team right away. The patient may need to be seen quickly so the cause of the problem can be found and treated. Sometimes, the patient may need to be in the hospital until the problem is treated. During this time, its helpful for confused patients to have someone they know stay with them. Here are some of the things to watch out for:
- Sudden change in ability to speak, especially long pauses or slurred words
- Sudden changes in emotion for instance, quick shifts from happy to irritated
- Changes in behavior or personality
- Changes in mood, such as unusual anxiety or depression
- Cloudy, disorganized thinking or the patient not knowing where they are
- Forgetting what they are doing
- Trouble staying alert or paying attention
- Patient needs help doing things like bathing and dressing when they were able to manage alone before
Brain Tumors In Children
Brain tumors are the most common solid tumor in children and adolescents, affecting about 5,000 children in the U.S. each year. Several different types of brain tumors can occur in children, including astrocytomas , gliomas, ependymomas and medulloblastomas.
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Signs Of Attention Thinking And Memory Problems
Signs of attention, thinking, and memory problems can include the following.
Trouble concentrating, focusing, or paying attention.
Difficulty remembering things, such as names, dates, or phone numbers.
Feeling disoriented, like you are in a “mental fog.” You might have difficulty finding your way around.
Feeling very confused, taking longer to deal with new information, or having difficulty understanding things.
Difficulty making decisions or thinking things through.
Difficulty organizing your thoughts or doing mental tasks, such as finding the right word or balancing your checkbook.
Problems doing more than one thing at a time.
You might also notice changes in your emotions and behavior. You may act in ways you never did before. You might have mood swings, get angry or cry at unusual times, or act differently in social situations.
How severe these problems are depends on many factors, including:
Your type of cancer, where it is, and your treatment
If you had depression or anxiety in the past
How much help you have access to for mental and emotional problems
Talk with your doctor if you or your loved one develop these symptoms. Managing symptoms is an important part of cancer care and treatment. It is called palliative care or supportive care. Attention, thinking, and memory problems are just as important as other symptoms during treatment.
How Common Are Brain Tumors And Are They Dangerous
In the United States, brain and nervous system tumors affect about 30 adults out of 100,000. Brain tumors are dangerous because they can put pressure on healthy parts of the brain or spread into those areas. Some brain tumors can also be cancerous or become cancerous. They can cause problems if they block the flow of fluid around the brain, which can lead to an increase in pressure inside the skull. Some types of tumors can spread through the spinal fluid to distant areas of the brain or the spine.
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Issues With The Vision:
If a brain tumor is in the region affecting vision or optic nerve, then it could produce symptoms such as blurred vision, double vision, foggy vision, partial or total blindness, color blindness, loss of peripheral vision. The tumor could result in optic neuropathy either as a result of a direct tumor or due to elevated intracranial pressure and optic nerve damage. Cranial nerve VI, III and IV dysfunction result in diplopia and optic nerve involvement causing visual blurring.
Treatment Of Cognitive Problems May Include Activities That Help Your Attention Memory And Thinking
The goal of cognitive rehabilitation is to improve your memory, thinking, organization, and decision-making skills. Cognitive rehabilitation includes the following:
- Learning how the brain works.
- Learning ways to take in new information and perform new tasks or behaviors.
- Using tools to help stay organized, such as calendars or electronic diaries.
- Doing activities over and over, usually on a computer, that become more challenging over time.
Attention restoring activities may help you to focus and concentrate. These include walking, gardening, bird watching, and caring for pets.
Meditation may help improve your cognitive function. Meditation is a mind-body practice in which a person focuses his or her attention on something, such as an object, word, phrase, or breathing. This will help keep you from being distracted or having stressful thoughts or feelings. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a type of meditation that focuses on bringing attention and awareness to each moment.
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How Can Thinking And Memory Be Affected
Cognitive problems can occur before, during or after cancer treatment. Some people notice small or subtle changes, but for others the effects are more obvious. These may include:
- a feeling of mental fogginess or sluggishness
- difficulty concentrating or focusing
- memory changes
- difficulty finding words during conversations
- finding it hard to do more than one thing at a time
- difficulty processing information, including following directions, problem-solving or learning new skills being unusually disorganised
- feeling unable to keep up with conversations
- tiredness or fatigue.
Medications That Can Cause Memory Loss
Some medications are the ultimate Catch-22: While they may ward off disease and help you function, they can also lead to harmful side effects.
Drugs that may cause memory loss and confusion include:
As you age, you may be more vulnerable to these negative side effects, notes Dr. Bonner-Jackson. Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice any new brain fog or confusion. If your medication is to blame, there are many alternatives out there. We can switch your medication to avoid these effects.
Cognitive Problems During Or After Treatment
Cognitive problems may start during or after treatment has finished, and they may be mild or more challenging. For some people, the changes are subtle and hardly noticeable, while others experience significant changes that affect their daily life. For most people who experience cognitive impairment with lung cancer treatment, the effects only last a short time. However, some experience long-term mental changes.1,3
How Do I Know If I Have He
If you’re having some of the symptoms described above but don’t have problems with your liver, it’s likely that your symptoms are triggered by a different cause of forgetfulness. Mental ability changes can be caused by dozens of conditions, some of which are reversible and others that are progressive .
If you do have a liver condition such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, it is more likely that HE is the cause of your symptoms. Either way, you should contact your healthcare provider right away if you notice mental ability changes because several causes of memory loss have better outcomes if they’re caught and treated early.
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Memory Loss And Issues With Perception & Judgment:
Brain tumors can affect the neurocognitive domain such that memory and perception may also be affected. The patient may be unable to recall events. A patients ability for perception may be greatly affected and may include symptoms of brain tumor such as hallucinations and issues with impulse control. Therefore neurocognitive symptoms influence a change in self-identity, personality as well as perception.
How Long Does It Last
Often, the fogginess will fade when your chemo ends. But for some people, the fuzzy feelings will linger for several months or sometimes a year or more.
For those with lasting symptoms, researchers are looking at medicines for diseases like depression, ADHD, Alzheimerâs, and other types of dementia. But more testing needs to be done.
If you have chemo brain that persists and youâve tried all the self-help tips, talk with a neuropsychologist. This is a doctor who specializes in the brain and can help with attention span and memory. They will find areas where you need help and tell you if other treatable problems like depression, anxiety, and fatigue are to blame.
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Addressing Other Issues That Could Be Affecting Your Cognition
Your doctors should check for and treat any physical underlying issues such as anaemia or an infection that might be making your symptoms worse. Its also important to get support if you are experiencing emotional difficulties, such as low mood, stress or anxiety.
Some research suggests that physical activity can have a positive effect on thinking processes such as memory, attention and speech. Whether or not it has a direct impact, physical activity can have a positive effect on mood, which can in turn improve thinking processes.
There is the frustration of not being able to do things I could do before. Some of this I have put down to chemo brain, which causes me problems with concentration and with finding the correct word. Surprisingly though, I have become more creative and enjoy many crafts that I would not have tackled in the past.
Below are some tips and strategies that some people find helps them to manage chemo brain.
To help with focus
To help with remembering
- Leave yourself written reminders or set up alerts on your phone.
- Use a calendar on your wall or on your phone to keep track of appointments.
- Write down any questions youd like to ask your medical team and take them with you to your appointments.
- Make visual links with pictures in your mind to help you remember things.
- Add items to the shopping list when they start to run low.
- Use maps, GPS or other navigations systems if you find it hard to remember how to get to places.
How Is Chemo Brain Diagnosed
It can be difficult to have a clear-cut diagnosis of chemo brain. Your doctor or nurse will discuss your symptoms with you. With your consent, they might also ask someone who knows you well to describe any changes theyve noticed in you.
Your doctor or nurse might also ask you to:
- complete a questionnaire or rating scale
- do some pen-and-paper tasks, for example, copying a shape
- follow a set of instructions
- answer some questions to test skills such as your memory and language.
Your doctor should also talk to you about how your difficulties are affecting your day-to-day life, and how they can support you in managing these.
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Early Warning Signs Of Brain Cancer
Brain cancer symptoms vary depending on the type, extent and location of the tumor, as well as the patients age and healthy history, and often mimic those caused by other medical conditions, so its important to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Early signs of brain cancer may include:
- A headache that changes depending on the time of day and position of the head and gets worse over time
Common symptoms of brain cancer may also include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Overproduction or underproduction of breast milk
- Cushings syndrome
- High blood pressure
Some patients may not feel right cognitively, or have visual, speech or coordination problems. The symptoms may be subtle or develop gradually.
Clumsiness: Loss Of Balance And Coordination
Loss of balance, lack of coordination in the limbs, trouble swallowing, and numbness or weakness in one side of the body can be because of brain tumors.
If you are finding it difficult to maintain your balance while walking or having difficulty coordinating your hands and legs, it might be a symptom of brain tumor. This might be caused by a tumor in the cerebellum, the primary motor cortex, or the parietal lobe, all of which are responsible in different ways for the coordination of movements. A brain stem tumor that affects hearing can also contribute to loss of balance.
If your clumsiness can be attributed to numbness or weakness in one side of your body, it might be caused by a tumor in the parietal lobe. As the brain stem and the frontal lobe control muscular movements related to swallowing and speaking, respectively, patients also have trouble with these activities if they get tumors in these areas.
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When To See A Gp
It’s important to see a GP if you have any symptoms.
While it’s unlikely that you have a tumour, these type of symptoms need to be evaluated by a doctor so the cause can be identified.
If the GP is unable to find a more likely cause of your symptoms, they may refer you to a brain and nerve specialist called a neurologist for further assessment and tests, such as a brain scan.
Page last reviewed: 21 April 2020 Next review due: 21 April 2023
Memory And Thinking Problems May Occur In Cancer Patients And Cancer Survivors
Changes in memory and thinking are common in cancer patients and cancer survivors and are to be expected. Your thinking process may change, making it harder for you to pay attention and remember information the same way as you did before your cancer treatment.
Talk to your doctor about memory and thinking problems that may happen with your type of cancer or after treatment.
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When Do Cognitive Changes Occur
Cognitive changes can occur at any point during your experience with cancer. Sometimes they are the first sign of a brain tumor. These changes may also happen after completing cancer treatment or after taking certain medications.
- Chemo brain can occur during or after chemotherapy treatment.
- Delirium may occur suddenly during treatment. Delirium usually happens after an identified cause, such as chemotherapy, and it is often reversible.
- Dementia due to cancer treatment comes on gradually over time and usually after treatment is completed. It may be harder to identify than delirium, and it may not have one identifiable cause. Dementia can develop as early as three months after radiotherapy to the brain. It can also occur 48 months or longer after completion of radiation therapy.
- Symptoms of dementia can also occur after surgery to remove a brain tumor.