- Question from Post: My oncologist is researching Focalin (chemical name: dexmethylphenidate), a cousin to Ritalin (chemical name: methylphenidate), to combat chemo brain. The study is still in process, but my doctor has provided access to this drug for some patients. Speaking only for myself, Focalin has been a miracle. My mental clarity and focus has improved beyond all expectations. Yet I never hear anything about this drug therapy. What is your perspective?
- Answers - Christina Meyers We started a course with Ritalin, the old standby stimulant, but it can have side effects especially for people who tend to be anxious or have high blood pressure. But Focalin sounds very interesting.
- George Sledge, M.D. Our group did publish a paper on Ritalin for patients who had fatigue after adjuvant chemotherapy and it was effective in relieving fatigue. It also had a high level of side effects. Methylphenidate is the chemical name of this drug, more commonly known as Ritalin, and it can cause elevated blood pressure and make the patient feel hyper. This belongs to the class of drugs known as "speed" so this type of agent may have real benefit, but there are some real side effects. They also tend to not be a permanent fix — in our experience, while the patients were on the agents, they saw real benefit but as soon as they stopped, that benefit disappeared.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Managing Chemo Brain featured Christina Meyers, Ph.D., A.B.P.P. and George Sledge, M.D. answering your questions about how long chemo brain can last, what treatments can be helpful, and current research on cognitive effects of breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2008.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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