In an effort to better define and ultimately address fatigue more effectively, a qualitative study from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has identified three primary themes - loss of strength or energy, major effects of fatigue and associated sensations - among patients being treated with standard radiation therapy.
Presenting today at the 33rd Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), Loretta A. Williams, Ph.D., RN, AOCN, OCN, an instructor in the Department of Symptom Research at M. D. Anderson, detailed commonalities of 21 patients who shared personal stories of dealing with cancer's most distressing and common symptom.
"While fatigue is a well-recognized symptom of cancer and its treatment, the measurement of fatigue has been based on many different ideas and definitions. Few of these definitions have included patient input. We're trying to define fatigue based on patient experience," said Williams. "Once we're able to determine the critical elements of fatigue, we'll be better equipped to ask the right questions of patients to assess fatigue. Healthcare professionals - including nurses - will be in a much better position to intervene with patients to manage or prevent fatigue."
The study included open-ended, audio-taped interviews with 21 patients, all who were receiving radiation therapy at M. D. Anderson. The patients were evenly divided with diagnoses of breast, prostate and head and neck cancer. Of the 21 patients who were interviewed during the fifth week of radiation therapy, 57 percent were women and the average patient was 54 years old.
In the study, patients reported a loss of strength or energy that included feelings of tiredness or weakness, which may progress to exhaustion, and lack of energy and stamina.
Because of the qualitative technique that Williams and her team used, their dialogues with patients revealed comments such as, "I don't have a body part that is tired. My whole body is tired," "I just have a weak feeling...pretty well all over," and "Fatigue to me is just a feeling of no energy."
More than 85 percent of the patients in Williams' study used the terms, "tiredness" and "lack of energy" to describe fatigue. According to the researchers, these may be good terms for patients to use when speaking with health care providers about fatigue and terms that should alert the providers to patients experiencing it.
The team also reported that the effects of fatigue included a lack of motivation or inability to perform usual activities, decreased interest in social activities, and an overwhelming need to rest at times.
"Among the patients that we talked to, they often expressed an inability to do things that they could easily do before their treatment or before their diagnosis," said Williams. "They frequently reported that they didn't want to be around others, that it took too much out of them to keep up a conversation or be cordial."
Williams and her team also pinpointed physical sensations associated with fatigue that included, "malaise, aching, feelings of heaviness or weight, slowness of movement, lack of appetite, and mental sensations of psychological distress and difficulty thinking or concentrating."
One patient described the physical sensations as "a feeling of heaviness," while another said, "I just felt myself dragged out, just tired, and it was distressing to me because that's not my norm. I don't like to feel like that."
"Defining the patient's experience with a symptom is critical to assessing and managing that symptom," said Williams who was a clinical nurse specialist before joining M. D. Anderson's Department of Symptom Management as a nurse-scientist. "Assessing and managing symptoms, certainly fatigue, is a primary role of oncology nurses."
Williams and her team are planning similar future studies to better define fatigue among patients receiving chemotherapy and new targeted therapies. They plan to develop a single definition of cancer-related fatigue.
Collaborating with Williams on the study were Shannon Burkett, Ph.D., Margaret H. White, B.A., Ibrahima Gning, Ph.D. and Charles Cleeland, Ph.D. The study was sponsored by a research grant from Cephalon, Inc.About M. D. Anderson
Robyn Stein | newswise
Graphene gives a tremendous boost to future terahertz cameras
16.04.2019 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences
Mount Kilimanjaro: Ecosystems in Global Change
28.03.2019 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.
Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...
Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.
Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
23.04.2019 | Information Technology
23.04.2019 | Earth Sciences
23.04.2019 | Life Sciences