Depression and pain increase fatigue in breast cancer survivors

September 14, 2011, FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Understanding fatigue-related factors following breast cancer treatment helps in survival recovery. Credit: SINC. OC.

In Spain, 5-year survival following breast cancer diagnosis is more than 83%. Around 66% suffer fatigue following treatment. A Spanish research establishes the factors associated with tiredness in cancer survivors to improve their quality of life and rehabilitation.

"Cancer-related fatigue is the symptom that most limits quality of life and is most common in patients that survive cancerous processes," explained Manuel Arroyo, researcher from the University of Granada and lead author of a study that links and physical pain episodes with fatigue after treating a breast tumour.

More than 66% of suffer tiredness following recovery, caused directly by the disease, physical deterioration or the treatment received. Therefore, understanding the factors related with fatigue and how they can be alleviated optimises survivors' recovery.

Fifty-nine treated for were followed-up one year after having clinically overcome the disease. The researchers assessed their psychological and physical condition as well as different aspects linked to the typical medical symptoms following a cancerous process (tiredness, pain, limited movement, depression, etc.).

A statistical procedure (resampling) allowed inferences to be made similar to those that would be obtained from larger samples. "This method means that the data were more reliable and eliminated the problem of having a reduced sample size," explained Arroyo. "It is difficult to find volunteers because patients are not often very willing to participate in research after having been through such harsh treatment."

The results show that the patients most affected by tiredness following treatment also suffer episodes of depression and body image deterioration, neck and shoulder pain, and limited , possibly due to the .

Effects of survival

Following , patients present with physical and psychological symptoms that influence their health.

Previous studies have already observed self-esteem- and body image-related disorders following the cancerous process. But for the first time, a team of researchers has associated sensory hypersensitivity, limited movement and certain psychological conditions with fatigue observed following cancer treatment.

"These findings should motivate patient support programmes which improve their psychological condition and offer resources that can reduce pain," pointed out Arroyo, who further stressed that "if fatigue is not treated, patients can suffer it for years, having a serious physical, emotional, social and economic impact."

Explore further: Cancer survivors can't shake pain, fatigue, insomnia, foggy brain

More information: Cantarero Villanueva, Antarero Villanueva, C- Fernández Lao, C. Fernández de las Peñas, L. Díaz Rodríguez, E. Sánchez Cantalejo, M. Arroyo Morales. "Associations among musculoskeletal impairments, depression, body image and fatigue in breast cancer survivors within the first year after treatment". European Journal of Cancer Care 20 (2011): 632-636, 11th Septembre 2011.

Related Stories

Cancer survivors can't shake pain, fatigue, insomnia, foggy brain

June 4, 2011
When people finish treatment for cancer, they want to bounce back to their former vital selves as quickly as possible. But a new Northwestern Medicine study -- one of the largest survivor studies ever conducted – shows ...

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

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.