Cancer-Related Fatigue

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Overview Fatigue is a common symptom in patients with cancer and is nearly universal in those undergoing cytotoxic chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplantation, or treatment with biologic response modifiers.1–10 The symptom is experienced by 70% to 100% of patients with cancer who undergo multi-modal treatments and dose–dense, dose-intense protocols.11 In patients with metastatic disease, the prevalence of cancer-related fatigue exceeds 75%. Cancer survivors report that fatigue is a disruptive symptom months or even years after treatment ends.12–21 The distinction between tiredness, fatigue, and exhaustion has not been made, despite conceptual differences.22,23 Patients perceive fatigue to be the most distressing symptom associated with cancer and its treatment, more distressing even than pain or nausea and vomiting, which, for most patients, can generally be managed with medications.24,25 Fatigue in patients with cancer has been underreported, underdiagnosed, and undertreated. Persistent cancer-related fatigue affects quality of life (QOL), because patients become too tired to fully participate in the roles and activities that make their lives meaningful.16,26–28 Health care professionals have been challenged in their efforts to help patients manage this distressful symptom and remain as fully engaged in life as possible. Because of the successes in cancer treatment, health care professionals are now likely to see patients with prolonged states of fatigue related to the late effects of treatment. Disability-related issues are relevant and often challenging, especially for patients who are cured of their malignancy but experience continued fatigue.29 Despite biomedical literature documenting this entity, patients with cancer-related fatigue often have difficulty obtaining...
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