Depression May Explain Fatigue of Cancer Patients

Study finds it could be bigger factor than the physical side effects of disease

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MONDAY, July 19, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The fatigue suffered by patients with blood cancer is most likely caused by depression and reduced physical performance, and not the disease itself, a new German study contends.

Up to now, fatigue symptoms were thought to be the result of anemia, a flagging immune system or other physical effects associated with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers.

In the study, doctors looked at more than 70 patients in remission who had been free from treatment for at least three months.

The doctors could find no correlation between the fatigue and any physical symptoms, lead researcher Dr. Fernando Dimeo, of the Charite University Medical Center in Berlin, said in a statement.

However, the scores for depression were 10 times greater for people who suffered high fatigue, compared with people who reported little fatigue. Patients with high fatigue also had physical performance scores that were five times lower than people without fatigue.

The research appears in the July 19 issue of the Annals of Oncology.

More information

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has more about leukemia.

SOURCES: Annals of Oncology, news release, July 18, 2004

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