Fighting Cancer and Fatigue
A national survey of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy has drawn attention to a side effect that is often disregarded–fatigue. Over three fourths of survey respondents suffered from cancer fatigue and 89% said it interferes with their daily lives. Sixty percent said fatigue had a greater impact on their lives than did side effects such as nausea, depression, and pain.
The survey of 379 adults, which was conducted by a research organization called Wirthlin Worldwide, confirms that debilitating fatigue during cancer treatment is seriously under-recognized and under-treated. Similar findings have been made by other studies, including a survey of 633 patients by University of Nebraska researchers that found a 61% incidence of moderate-to-severe fatigue among middle-aged women.
Treatment options are available for fatigue, and many patients are suffering needlessly, says the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. Treatment of cancer-related fatigue involves proper nutrition, vitamin and mineral supplementation, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, lifestyle modifications (such as walking for exercise) and even psychological counseling. Fatigue often stems from anemia, which can be treated with medication and blood transfusions, according to the Fatigue Coalition, a research and advocacy organization.
The cancer programs at the Health Alliance hospitals provide multidiscipline teams that address all aspects of patient care. Team members include physicians, nurses, dietitians, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists, financial counselors, occupational therapists and physical therapists. In addition, the Health Alliance offers health screenings, support groups, public education programs and a hereditary cancer program for families with a history of cancer.
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