Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Step Toward Better Defining Fatigue In Cancer Treatment

Date:
May 15, 2008
Source:
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Summary:
In an effort to better define and ultimately address fatigue more effectively, a qualitative study has identified three primary themes-- loss of strength or energy, major effects of fatigue and associated sensations -- among patients being treated with standard radiation therapy.

In an effort to better define and ultimately address fatigue more effectively, a qualitative study from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has identified three primary themes - loss of strength or energy, major effects of fatigue and associated sensations - among patients being treated with standard radiation therapy.

Presenting at the 33rd Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), Loretta A. Williams, Ph.D., RN, AOCN, OCN, an instructor in the Department of Symptom Research at M. D. Anderson, detailed commonalities of 21 patients who shared personal stories of dealing with cancer's most distressing and common symptom.

"While fatigue is a well-recognized symptom of cancer and its treatment, the measurement of fatigue has been based on many different ideas and definitions. Few of these definitions have included patient input. We're trying to define fatigue based on patient experience," said Williams. "Once we're able to determine the critical elements of fatigue, we'll be better equipped to ask the right questions of patients to assess fatigue. Healthcare professionals - including nurses - will be in a much better position to intervene with patients to manage or prevent fatigue."

The study included open-ended, audio-taped interviews with 21 patients, all who were receiving radiation therapy at M. D. Anderson. The patients were evenly divided with diagnoses of breast, prostate and head and neck cancer. Of the 21 patients who were interviewed during the fifth week of radiation therapy, 57 percent were women and the average patient was 54 years old.

In the study, patients reported a loss of strength or energy that included feelings of tiredness or weakness, which may progress to exhaustion, and lack of energy and stamina.

Because of the qualitative technique that Williams and her team used, their dialogues with patients revealed comments such as, "I don't have a body part that is tired. My whole body is tired," "I just have a weak feeling...pretty well all over," and "Fatigue to me is just a feeling of no energy."

More than 85 percent of the patients in Williams' study used the terms, "tiredness" and "lack of energy" to describe fatigue. According to the researchers, these may be good terms for patients to use when speaking with health care providers about fatigue and terms that should alert the providers to patients experiencing it.

The team also reported that the effects of fatigue included a lack of motivation or inability to perform usual activities, decreased interest in social activities, and an overwhelming need to rest at times.

"Among the patients that we talked to, they often expressed an inability to do things that they could easily do before their treatment or before their diagnosis," said Williams. "They frequently reported that they didn't want to be around others, that it took too much out of them to keep up a conversation or be cordial."

Williams and her team also pinpointed physical sensations associated with fatigue that included, "malaise, aching, feelings of heaviness or weight, slowness of movement, lack of appetite, and mental sensations of psychological distress and difficulty thinking or concentrating."

One patient described the physical sensations as "a feeling of heaviness," while another said, "I just felt myself dragged out, just tired, and it was distressing to me because that's not my norm. I don't like to feel like that."

"Defining the patient's experience with a symptom is critical to assessing and managing that symptom," said Williams who was a clinical nurse specialist before joining M. D. Anderson's Department of Symptom Management as a nurse-scientist. "Assessing and managing symptoms, certainly fatigue, is a primary role of oncology nurses."

Williams and her team are planning similar future studies to better define fatigue among patients receiving chemotherapy and new targeted therapies. They plan to develop a single definition of cancer-related fatigue.

Collaborating with Williams on the study were Shannon Burkett, Ph.D., Margaret H. White, B.A., Ibrahima Gning, Ph.D. and Charles Cleeland, Ph.D. The study was sponsored by a research grant from Cephalon, Inc.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "A Step Toward Better Defining Fatigue In Cancer Treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515171029.htm>.
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. (2008, May 15). A Step Toward Better Defining Fatigue In Cancer Treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515171029.htm
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "A Step Toward Better Defining Fatigue In Cancer Treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515171029.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins