Fatigue is a highly prevalent condition among patients with cancer affecting between 70% and 100% and patients describe their fatigue experiences as the most distressing of symptoms. However, the management of fatigue is complicated by our current lack of understanding of its pathophysiology. This study aimed to gain an insight into the longitudinal fatigue experiences of patients receiving chemotherapy. A convenience sample of patients receiving chemotherapy (n=249) were recruited and recorded their fatigue experiences using a paper questionnaire for 14 consecutive days following each cycle of chemotherapy. Fatigue was reported in 57% of all completed questionnaires. Patients report fatigue as a relatively constant presence following chemotherapy. Moreover, fatigue experiences increase over consecutive cycles of chemotherapy. This study supports the existing evidence illustrating fatigue as a significant problem for patients with cancer and provides new data demonstrating patterns of fatigue over the duration of a course of chemotherapy. Understanding this experience of fatigue should prompt health professionals providing care for this patient population to seek and test a range of management strategies to help patients maintain their quality of life during cancer treatment.
- Symptom patterns
- Patient experiences