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Alzheimer's Disease

Medication Recommended to Aid in Memory Loss

01/09/2009

Question:

I am 38 years old and have undergone 12 surgeries in one year for breast cancer. It has been 2 years since the last surgery and my short-term memory has been severely affected. My ability to control certain mood behaviors, complete thought process, recall words, as well as mental focus has been altered. I am a paralegal in a large law firm and it is affecting my ability to perform. Can you recommend the type of doctor I should see for evaluation and the types of drugs that can assist with same, if any?

Answer:

A variety of possibilities may be the cause of memory loss in your case. There could be cancer spread to the brain, antibodies from the breast cancer affecting the brain (paraneoplastic syndromes), complications form the surgeries including small strokes, medication effects, chemotherapy related white matter disease in the brain (leukoencephalopathy), delayed effects from radiation therapy (if any), cognitive effects from depression or anxiety, or some other cause completely unrelated to the surgeries or cancer.

I would bring these concerns up to your primary care doctor and oncologist (breast cancer doctor), and if they recommend referral, to have neuropsychological testing done. If that is abnormal, referral to a neuro-oncologist or neurobehaviorist or to a Memory Disorders Clinic may be in order. Treatment would depend on the cause of the memory issue.

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University