MONDAY, Sept. 22, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Doctors rarely discuss fatigue with their cancer patients, even though it has a major impact on the patients' quality of life.
That's what an Italian study in the Nov. 1 issue of Cancer found.
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) has largely gone unnoticed by doctors, who tend to be focused on more obvious and acute cancer patient symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
After reviewing published literature, the Italian researchers determined that CRF affects 50 percent to 75 percent of all cancer patients and an even greater percentage (80 percent to 96 percent) of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The study found the impact of CRF on quality of life is experienced by cancer patients for a much longer time than symptoms such as nausea, depression or pain.
Despite the impact of CRF, the mechanisms that cause or promote it are poorly understood, the authors write. There are several theories but little direct scientific evidence to support them.
"Clearly, more work is necessary to gain a better understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of CRF. Nonetheless, tools for improving quality of life in patients with fatigue are already available," the authors write.
They say that treating anemia in cancer patients with exercise and medications are the most consistently effective approaches to dealing with CRF.
Here's where you can learn more about cancer-related fatigue.