Chemotherapy causes long-term fatigue for breast cancer patients, study finds

6 December 2011

Patients who receive chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer suffer from prolonged fatigue, a new study has found.

Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida have discovered that patients undergoing breast cancer treatment may experience severe tiredness for years after they complete the course of chemotherapy.

The follow-up study to previous research, published in the American Cancer Society's CANCER journal, looked at 205 patients with a history of cancer and 193 women who had never received any treatment and compared how much sleep they needed on average.

An earlier study by the society in 2007 looked into the issue, but the latest research shows that fatigue can be a long-lasting side effect of treatment for the disease. The findings contradict the initial expectations of the scientists, who hoped to discover that tiredness symptoms wore off after some time.

Study author Paul Jacobsen, leader for Health Outcomes and Behavior at Moffitt Cancer Center, said: "This finding has important implications for patient education and for fatigue monitoring during follow-up. Our results should inform patient education efforts when patients receiving chemotherapy are often told that their fatigue will gradually diminish."

Main known side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, hair loss and anaemia.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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