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Fatigue Before Treatment Starts Might Affect Cancer Survival
  • Robert Preidt
  • Posted August 10, 2021

Fatigue Before Treatment Starts Might Affect Cancer Survival

Significant fatigue at the start of cancer treatment is associated with a greater risk of severe side effects and shorter survival, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from four clinical trials of lung cancer or prostate cancer treatments that were conducted by the SWOG Cancer Research Network, a cancer clinical trials group funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

The study confirms that patient-reported fatigue can be a predictor of survival in some cancer patients, according to lead author Julia Mo, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York.

"Our findings suggest that if there is evidence of significant fatigue, patients and families should be informed and counseled on possible higher risk of poorer outcomes," Mo said in a SWOG news release. "In addition, strategies may be developed to impact fatigue and possibly long-term outcomes."

Two of the four trials included patients with advanced hormone-resistant prostate cancer, and the other two included patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. All of the nearly 2,000 patients completed quality-of-life and symptom surveys at the start of their trial.

Median overall survival for patients reporting clinically significant fatigue at the start of treatment was 26% to 45% shorter than for patients without such fatigue.

In the two prostate cancer trials, researchers also found that patients with clinically significant fatigue before cancer treatment were more likely to have severe side effects from chemotherapy, particularly gastrointestinal and neurological complaints.

This association between fatigue and side effects was not found among patients in the two lung cancer trials, according to the study.

The results were published online recently in the journal JCO Oncology Practice. Initial findings from the study were outlined at a 2020 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on cancer treatments.

SOURCE: SWOG Cancer Research Network, news release, July 29, 2021

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