Almost a quarter of cancer patients may already be experiencing severe fatigue before their treatment starts, researchers in the Netherlands have found. They assessed 179 patients with various malignancies before treatment initiation and found that 23.5 per cent were severely fatigued. Prevalence of fatigue varied between diagnoses with prostate cancer at 14.3 per cent, breast cancer at 20.3 per cent and gastrointestinal cancer at 28.1 per cent. Factors that appeared to contribute to severe fatigue were lower physical activity, depressive mood, impaired sleep and rest during the day and night, and fatigue one year before diagnosis.

Goedendorp MM, Gielissen MFM, Verhagen CAH et al. Br J Cancer 2008;99:1408-14

Originally published in the November 2008 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.