Perception of cancer-related fatigue: Results of a patient survey
N. Díaz, S. Menjón, C. Rolfo, P. García-Alfonso, J. Carulla, A. Magro, J. Miramón, C. A. Rodríguez, E. Baró and J. A. Gasquet
H. San Juan de Alicante, Alicante, Spain
Background: Fatigue is one of the cancer-related symptoms that has the greatest impact on patients’ lives. This survey was designed to better understand the functional and psychological impact of fatigue and to determine, according to the patient’s perception, the load of fatigue relative to other symptoms.
Methods: A cross-sectional, self-administered survey was conductedfrom August-October 2007. Patients were 18 years old, with adiagnosis of cancer, and had received their last therapy session2–12 months ago. Demographic and tumor information werecollected. The survey included 6 questions about the emotionaland social impact of fatigue and the patient’s perceptionof the oncologist’s response to reports of fatigue. Fatigueimpact on emotional well-being was measured by a visual analoguescale (0–100). Questions about functional and social impactwere rated on a 5-point Likert scale. Descriptive statisticswere used to summarize demographic variables and responses.
Results: The survey was completed by 505 respondents (mean age 58.8 years; 55.2% women). Most tumors were located in the breast (26.5%), digestive system (20.8%), and lung (14.5%). Altogether 97.8% of patients experienced fatigue while receiving chemotherapy. Fatigue treatment was discussed with the oncologist in 72.9% of the cases while only 61.2% of patients reported receiving treatment for fatigue. Fatigue impact on emotional well-being was 54.9 (SD: 19.2). Over 65% of the patients felt that at least 50% of the time, fatigue prevented them from participating in social activities, in about 60% of patients, fatigue prevented their daily activities. Independent of sex or tumor type, fatigue was remembered as the most bothersome symptom of cancer.
Conclusions: Fatigue has substantial emotional and social impact on cancer patients and is perceived by patients as the symptom that causes greatest impairment to their daily activities.