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Keywords:

  • persistent fatigue;
  • cancer;
  • oncology;
  • survivors;
  • longitudinal design

Abstract

Background: We investigated whether fatigue is a persistent problem, and whether persistent fatigue is related to former treatment modalities. In addition, we studied the predictors of persistent fatigue.

Methods: At baseline (n=150, mean time since cancer treatment=29 months) patients were asked to fill out several questionnaires on psychological, physical, social, cognitive and behavioral aspects (Ann. Oncol. 2002;13:589–598). During the 2 years after baseline patients were asked to fill out monthly a fatigue questionnaire (CIS-fatigue). Hundred-twenty-one patients completed the study, 10 dropped out and 19 had a disease recurrence.

Results: Twenty-four percent of the patients experienced persistent severe fatigue complaints during the 2-year observation period. Persistent fatigue seemed to be related to the duration of former treatment but unrelated to type of surgery, type of adjuvant therapy and time since treatment finished. High anxiety, high impairment in role functioning and low sense of control over fatigue symptoms at baseline were predictors of persistent fatigue.

Conclusion: Fatigue appears to be a persistent problem for a quarter of a sample of disease-free breast cancer patients during a 2-year period. The predictors of persistent fatigue found in this study can be helpful for the development of interventions to reduce post-treatment fatigue. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.