Chemotherapy may be culprit for fatigue in breast cancer survivors

September 10, 2007

A new study finds that, compared to healthy women, breast cancer survivors reported more days of fatigue and more severe fatigue symptoms. The study, published in the October 15, 2007 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, found women who received both chemotherapy and radiotherapy reported the most severe and prolonged fatigue.

Fatigue is a common complaint in the general population and, anecdotally, common among cancer patients. Comparative fatigue studies between the two populations, however, have been marred by methodological shortcomings, such as poorly matched controls and patient populations. The studies do not consistently agree whether or not fatigue is a more common complaint among cancer patients compared to the general population.

Dr. Paul Jacobsen from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida and co-investigators followed 221 women with non-metastatic (early stage) breast cancer treated with either radiography (n=121) or a combination of chemotherapy and radiography (n=100) and 221 age- and geographically-matched healthy women (i.e., controls) at two, four, and six months after treatment.

The authors expected to find the greatest difference in fatigue scores just after treatment, diminishing with time. Surprisingly though, they found that breast cancer patients, had a significantly greater number of days with reported fatigue at each of the four assessments, and that even at the six-month follow-up assessment, a statistically significant and clinically meaningful group difference in fatigue duration was still evident. They studied further and found that the difference was attributable primarily to heightened fatigue in those women who received both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

These findings provide strong evidence that women with non-metastatic breast cancer treated with adjuvant chemotherapy are at significantly greater risk for severe fatigue. The next step, explains Dr. Jacobsen, is to “explore whether interventions administered during or at the end of treatment are effective in preventing or limiting fatigue in the post-treatment period.” They point in particular to the role of exercise, which has been shown to reduce fatigue in breast cancer survivors.

Source: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Explore further: Swedish massage may reduce cancer-related fatigue

Related Stories

Swedish massage may reduce cancer-related fatigue

October 25, 2017
(HealthDay)—Swedish massage therapy (SMT) is associated with clinically significant relief from cancer-related fatigue (CRF) in breast cancer survivors, according to a study published online Oct. 17 in Cancer.

Joan lunden's breast cancer journey: 'You feel so vulnerable'

October 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Joan Lunden—co-host of "Good Morning America" for nearly two decades and a long-time health advocate—is now also a breast cancer survivor.

Exercise can counteract side-effects and improve fitness in advanced breast cancer patients

November 2, 2017
Taking part in regular exercise can reduce fatigue and pain, and improve cardiovascular health and quality of life in women being treated for advanced breast cancer, according to new research presented at the Advanced Breast ...

Combined therapies increase side effects for patients with advanced breast cancer

November 2, 2017
Lisbon, Portugal: Patients with advanced breast cancer who are treated with a combination of drugs that target specific molecules important for cancer development and also the hormones that are driving it are at increased ...

Expert says mindfulness activities can help breast cancer survivors with post-treatment symptoms

October 19, 2017
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 250,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. They will join the approximately 3.1 million breast-cancer survivors who have completed treatment ...

Yoga can be an effective supportive therapy for people with lung cancer and their caregivers

October 24, 2017
In a feasibility trial of people with advanced lung cancer receiving radiation therapy, and their caregivers, yoga was beneficial to both parties. These findings will be presented at the upcoming 2017 Palliative and Supportive ...

Recommended for you

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Computer program finds new uses for old drugs

November 16, 2017
Researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have developed a computer program to find new indications for old drugs. The computer program, called DrugPredict, ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

Pharmacoscopy improves therapy for relapsed blood cancer in a first clinical trial

November 16, 2017
Researchers at CeMM and the Medical University of Vienna presented a preliminary report in The Lancet Hematology on the clinical impact of an integrated ex vivo approach called pharmacoscopy. The procedures measure single-cell ...

Wider sampling of tumor tissues may guide drug choice, improve outcomes

November 15, 2017
A new study focused on describing genetic variations within a primary tumor, differences between the primary and a metastatic branch of that tumor, and additional diversity found in tumor DNA in the blood stream could help ...

A new strategy for prevention of liver cancer development

November 14, 2017
Primary liver cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and its incidences and mortality are increasing rapidly in the United Stated. In late stages of the malignancy, there are no effective ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.