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Keywords:

  • breast carcinoma;
  • cancer survivor;
  • fatigue;
  • quality of life

Abstract

BACKGROUND

A longitudinal study was designed to evaluate the prevalence, persistence, and predictors of posttreatment fatigue in breast carcinoma survivors.

METHODS

A sample of 763 breast carcinoma survivors completed questionnaires at 1–5 and 5–10 years after diagnosis, including the RAND 36-item Health Survey, Center for Epidemiological Studies – Depression scale (CES-D), Breast Cancer Prevention Trial Symptom Checklist, and demographic and treatment-related measures.

RESULTS

Approximately 34% of study participants reported significant fatigue at 5–10 years after diagnosis, which is consistent with prevalence estimates obtained at 1–5 years after diagnosis. Approximately 21% reported fatigue at both assessment points, indicating a more persistent symptom profile. Longitudinal predictors of fatigue included depression, cardiovascular problems, and type of treatment received. Women treated with either radiation or chemotherapy alone showed a small improvement in fatigue compared with those treated with both radiation and chemotherapy.

CONCLUSIONS

Fatigue continues to be a problem for breast carcinoma survivors many years after cancer diagnosis, with 21% reporting persistent problems with fatigue. Several factors that may contribute to long-term fatigue are amenable to intervention, including depression and comorbid medical conditions. Cancer 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.