- Sep 22, 1998I thought the following might be of interest to everyone here. --Matt--
Fatigue Is Most Prevalent and Longest-Lasting Cancer-Related Side Effect New
Survey Details Physical, Emotional and Economic Impact
WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Findings released today from a new
national survey underscore what cancer patients already know: the fatigue
following chemotherapy treatment has a sweeping impact on patients' physical
and emotional health and their economic well being.
Three-quarters of the 379 cancer patients surveyed (76%) consistently
experienced fatigue. And, nearly nine out of 10 (89%) of those who
experienced fatigue (n=301) said cancer fatigue, commonly caused by
chemotherapy-induced anemia, interferes with their normal daily life. Only 9%
of fatigued patients were treated with prescription drugs or transfusions.
The survey was released by the Fatigue Coalition, a multidisciplinary group of
medical practitioners, researchers and patient advocates, and was conducted by
the research organization Wirthlin Worldwide.
"The survey results confirm that the debilitating fatigue during cancer
treatment is seriously under-recognized and undertreated," said Gregory A.
Curt, M.D., clinical director at the National Cancer Institute and a member of
the Fatigue Coalition. "The physical, emotional and economic stress of
fatigue on cancer patients has a serious impact on their ability to get back
to the business of living."
Among respondents who experienced some level of fatigue, 60% said that fatigue
impacted their daily lives more than any other side effect of their cancer
treatment -- considerably outweighing the effects of nausea (22%), depression
(10%) and pain (6%). Not only was fatigue the most prevalent cancer side
effect, it also lasted the longest. Nearly half (45%) of patients suffering
from fatigue said their bouts with the condition lasted at least one week
after chemotherapy, and one-third (33%) struggled with fatigue for two or more
The survey also uncovered specific details about the economic, emotional and
physical impact of fatigue among the 76 % who experienced the condition:
-- Economic: 71% of employed patients missed one or more days a month and
31% missed nearly an entire week. Similarly, their caregivers took off
about the same number of days to help care for them. Another 28% say
fatigue forced them to stop working altogether.
-- Emotional/social: Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they had
difficulty socializing with family or friends, 37% said they had
problems maintaining interpersonal relationships, and 30% had
difficulty being intimate with their partner.
-- Physical: A majority said cancer fatigue interfered with daily
activities such as cleaning the house (69%), running errands (56%),
climbing stairs (56%) and walking distances (69%).
The most common cause of cancer-related fatigue is anemia, a condition in
which decreased numbers of red blood cells prevent sufficient oxygen from
reaching body tissues. One-third of fatigued patients surveyed (32%) reported
that they had been diagnosed with anemia, yet only 9% of these patients were
treated with prescription drugs or transfusions to address the fatigue.
"The real message of the survey findings is that many patients with fatigue
are suffering alone when treatment options are available. Clearly, based on
these results, fatigue may jeopardize patients' careers and their ability to
take care of themselves and their families. The treatment community and
patients need to recognize this fact and actively seek and request more
treatment options," said Susan L. Scherr, a cancer survivor who is a member of
the Fatigue Coalition and serves as director of Community and Strategic
Alliances for the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), a
national advocacy group for cancer patients.
"Now, when our patients describe the way fatigue is impacting their ability to
go about their daily lives, we need to evaluate each individual's condition
and treat fatigue aggressively when needed," added Dr. Curt.
The survey included patients who had been treated for cancers of the breast,
prostate, lung and skin, as well as leukemia and lymphoma. The study was
underwritten by Ortho Biotech Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company.
SOURCE The Fatigue Coalition
CO: Fatigue Coalition
ST: New York
09/22/98 06:30 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com
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