How do you cope with cancer-related fatigue?
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For patients with cancer-related fatigue, exercise is likely to be last on the list of appealing activities. According to a new study, however, physical activity is the best way to combat this common side effect.
Researchers compared a variety of treatments for cancer-related fatigue to find that exercise or psychological interventions fared best, while drug treatments were less effective.
Based on their findings, the authors suggest that doctors should recommend exercise or psychological therapies to patients with cancer-related fatigue in the first instance, rather than turning to medications.
Lead author Karen Mustian, Ph.D. - associate professor in the Cancer Control Program of the Department of Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York - and colleagues recently published their findings in JAMA Oncology.
Fatigue is the most common side effect for patients being treated for cancer. As well as tiredness and lack of energy, cancer-related fatigue may cause confusion, irritability, poor memory, and depression.
Not only can this reduce patients' quality of life by preventing them from engaging in day-to-day activities, but it may also discourage them from completing their cancer treatment.
Current guidelines suggest that exercise, medication, and psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy, may be effective for reducing cancer-related fatigue, but which treatment is best? Mustian and colleagues set out to answer this question.
Exercise more effective than medication
The researchers analyzed data from 113 randomized clinical trials that evaluated the effects of physical activity, medication, and psychological interventions, as well as a combination of both physical activity and psychological interventions, on cancer-related fatigue.
In total, the studies included 11,525 patients aged between 35 and 72 who had been diagnosed with cancer, all of whom had cancer-related fatigue. Almost half of the studies consisted of women with breast cancer, while 10 of the studies enrolled men with other cancer types.
The researchers found that exercise and psychological interventions were equally effective for reducing cancer-related fatigue, as determined by measures on various fatigue assessments - including the Piper Fatigue Scale and the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory.
Drug treatments, which included modafinil and Ritalin, were found to be less effective than both exercise and psychological interventions.
Based on these findings, the team says that doctors should focus less on recommending drug treatments for patients with cancer-related fatigue, and more on physical activity and psychological therapies.
"The literature bears out that these drugs don't work very well although they are continually prescribed," says Mustian. "Cancer patients already take a lot of medications and they all come with risks and side effects. So any time you can subtract a pharmaceutical from the picture it usually benefits patients."
Maintaining your weight losses is the most essential thing, exercise is the last thing needed. With the massive weight loss comes big muscle loss if not addressed, so exercise will not be helpful. The fatigue is probably more related to the lack of ability to eat and the distressing side effects of the treatment.
The best hope is the medical profession learning that such destructive treatment is not necessary and much lower doses are required. They are already reducing the power of the drugs/treatment so there is hope but not for us who have been through it already. The cancer is not normally the problem but the aggressive treatment causes massive weight loss. The long periods of the various treatments I would have thought caused massive depressing affect leading to the fatigue.
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How are you today? Have you seen this older discussion?
Cancer can often be tiring - both physically and mentally - before, during and after treatment.
How do you cope with cancer-related fatigue? Do you have a particular routine you follow? Is there something you take like a supplement? How do you manage?
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Courtney_J, Community Manager, Carenity UK
As always drugs are discovered that can reduce the damage to the surrounding tissue/bone of treatment area. To old drugs to increase the blood flow are hoped to prevent the massive destruction and therefore reduce the damage to teeth, gum and bone in treating cancer in that area. This a massive issue for me long term due to infections created from the lack of blood flow. Having infection travel one tooth at a time leading to supposed hospital extractions and endless anti-biotics. No long term plan by hospitals leave you stranded to extensive dental issues without support from the NHS.
Lymphatic system damage is another long term problem where self treatment is the only solution for the rest of your life. Distressing and painful at times finding your own solution is a must. Therefore sites like this to allow patients to pass on their experiencies and their resolutions.
Finally the muscule spasms and tissue damage have been a real painful experience with no real solution long term.
But I am still alive to enjoy these painful delights of cancer treatment. It seems the NHS are discovering new methods to reduce some of the damage of cancer treatment in future patients. Stay safe.
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