Chemo fog is a type of mental fog that can occur in people who undergo cancer treatment. It causes memory and concentration problems, and it can be a short or long-term problem.

Chemo fog is also known as chemo brain, cancer treatment-related cognitive impairment, and cancer-related cognitive change. Doctors may recommend home remedies and cancer rehabilitation programs to help cope with symptoms.

This article discusses chemo fog in more detail. It looks at its treatment options and coping strategies.

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Chemo fog or chemo brain is a mental change that may occur during, or after receiving cancer treatment. It is also known as cloudiness or mental fog.

Chemo fog causes cognitive decline, as a person may have difficulty remembering certain things or learning new skills.

They may also face other challenges, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). These include difficulty concentrating, doing multiple things at once, or taking longer to complete tasks.

Different cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy can increase people’s chance of developing chemo fog.

This may also affect those who have brain tumors, anxiety, or take pain medications.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) states that chemo brain is more likely to affect those who are treated with cisplatin.

Read more about chemotherapy.

Research from 2017 estimates that one-third of people have chemo fog symptoms for up to 10 years after completing their cancer treatment plan. This study also states, however, that some people may see improvement in their chemo fog symptoms within a few months of finishing treatment.

Another study from 2017 showed that people with breast cancer who were treated with chemotherapy reported substantial cognitive difficulties 6 months after treatment finished. These difficulties were greater than those experienced by an age-matched control group who did not receive cancer treatment.

There are various treatment options available to help manage chemo fog.

Cancer rehabilitation

People who develop thinking or movement issues may talk with their doctor who may suggest joining a cancer rehabilitation program. This is a supportive program that targets those who are finding it difficult to perform everyday tasks or have developed pain, weakness, or other symptoms.

The ACS mentions different types of doctors that may offer cancer rehabilitation services. People may meet with a physical therapist, speech-language pathologist, and occupational therapist.

They help individuals manage fatigue, control pain, and improve memory function.

A 2021 study affirms that sometimes, cancer rehabilitation sessions may take place online. This may reduce waiting times and increase the number of people who join the program.

Some may prefer this option as their symptoms may make it difficult for them to see a healthcare professional in person.


The NCI notes that exercising regularly before or during cancer treatment may help prevent cognitive symptoms from worsening. Staying active before starting treatment may also help reduce cancer severity.

A 2019 study explored the effects of aerobic exercises in older adults who were not physically active. The participants joined a high intensity interval training (HIIT), moderate continuous training, and a stretching control program. The authors conclude that HIIT may help improve memory performance more than the other exercises.


Meditation is a practice that helps calm the mind. People may focus on a specific sensation, such as a sound, a visual image, or a repeated word.

Some may also engage in mindfulness. This helps individuals become aware of their thoughts and surrounding environment.

A 2019 study suggests that daily meditation may boost an individual’s mood and improve memory and attention. While this study was not conducted on those with chemo fog, it shows that meditation can help with cognitive difficulties.

Learn more about meditation.

Movement therapy

Yoga and tai chi are forms of movement therapy practice.

One study considers it a complementary and alternative medicine. It estimates that 38% of people in the United States use this type of treatment to help manage pain, stress, and anxiety.

Yoga can be beneficial during cancer treatment because it can:

  • reduce fatigue
  • improve quality of sleep
  • improve physical vitality
  • improve overall quality of life

Tai chi is a type of exercise that includes deep breaths, slow movements, and meditation. A 2020 study suggests that engaging in regular tai chi exercises may help improve memory function.

Healthcare professionals may provide tips to help individuals cope with chemo fog. These tips may include:

  • Using memory aids: A person may have difficulty remembering things, so keeping a diary and creating to-do lists may help. They may also keep notes in places where it is easy to find them.
  • Managing stress: Research indicates that yoga may help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. One study found that mental health symptoms were reduced in people who were assigned female at birth that attended 12 sessions of hatha yoga.
  • Getting enough sleep: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that people sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It may also help to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages or using electronic devices before bedtime.
  • Exercising: Studies show that engaging in regular exercise may help manage fatigue and pain, as well as improve sleep, and energy.
  • Eating nutritious food: The Mediterranean diet may benefit those with memory problems, according to the National Institute on Aging. This includes foods from different groups, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Below are some questions people frequently ask about chemo fog.

What does chemo fog feel like?

People with chemo fog experience mental fog, a type of cognitive impairment that causes memory problems and reduced mental sharpness.

They may feel disorganized and confused, and they may also take a longer time performing tasks.

Can chemo fog be cured?

Chemo fog is usually short-term, but sometimes it may last for months or years. Home remedies, such as writing notes, creating to-do lists, or practicing yoga may help individuals cope with their symptoms.

Cognitive rehabilitation programs may also help attendees regain their independence.

What vitamins help with chemo brain?

Individuals may ask their doctor if they can take any supplements to help improve their symptoms. It is important to discuss this with a doctor first, as vitamin supplements can interact with certain medications.

Multivitamins, such as vitamins A, C, and E may help improve cognition.

Chemo fog is a side effect of cancer medications and can occur during or after receiving treatment.

It may cause various symptoms. A person may feel confused, disorganized, or find it difficult to concentrate.

Home remedies, such as writing notes, exercising, or learning new skills may help manage symptoms. If someone is concerned about chemo fog or chemo brain, they can discuss these side effects with their doctor.