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Cancer. 2007 Oct 15;110(8):1851-9.

Fatigue after treatment for early stage breast cancer: a controlled comparison.

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  • 1Health Outcomes and Behavior Program, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa, Florida 33612, USA. paul.jacobsen@moffitt.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Evidence suggests that fatigue may be a greater problem for cancer survivors than people without cancer. The present study sought to determine whether fatigue was greater in women who had completed treatment for early-stage breast cancer relative to a demographically matched comparison group of women with no cancer history.

METHODS:

As part of a larger study, women with stage 0-II breast cancer were recruited before the start of chemotherapy and radiotherapy (n = 100) or radiotherapy only (n = 121). Fatigue was assessed at the end of treatment and 2, 4, and 6 months later. An age- and geographically matched sample of women with no history of cancer was recruited and assessed for comparison purposes.

RESULTS:

Relative to comparison subjects, breast cancer survivors reported more days of fatigue in the past week at all 4 study assessments (P < .05). These differences appeared to be clinically meaningful in that a greater percentage of patients than nonpatients earned scores in the abnormal range on this measure at each assessment (P < .05). Additional analyses indicated that differences in fatigue between patients and comparison subjects were attributable primarily to heightened fatigue in women who received both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings suggest that fatigue is a greater problem for breast cancer survivors in the 6 months after completion of chemotherapy than for women with no cancer history. Future research should include longer-term follow-up to determine the persistence of fatigue in this population of survivors.

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