About half of the studies focused on patients who had breast cancer, while others included patients with more than one type of cancer, such as colorectal and prostate.
Jacobsen and his colleagues found that 44 percent of the activity-based trials and 50 percent of the psychological studies that were of good quality reported significant, if not earth shattering, results. Patients who received either of the two types of interventions reported less fatigue than patients in the control groups did, the researchers concluded.
The overall effects of both psychological and activity-based interventions on fatigue were modest, Jacobsen said. The effects of psychological interventions were sufficiently large, however, to say that they were unlikely to have occurred by chance alone using conventional definitions of statistical significance.
Jacobsen concluded the results only provide limited support for the use of these types of nonpharmacological treatments to manage cancer fatigue.
Steven Passik, associate attending psychologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said that although there is currently limited research that interventions such as counseling or exercise have a strong benefit on fatigue, patients prefer to try these methods rather than take more medications.
Some of the main barriers of managing cancer fatigue have proven to be a lack of communication from health care providers to patients about how to battle fatigue, as well as an overall reluctance of many patients to take any more drugs to treat the symptom, Passik said. So, more research like this study is needed to find what types of interventions work best for patients.
Jacobsen added that if cancer patients do choose to exercise during their treatments, they should take caution.
Patients should consult with their physicians before initiating an exercise regimen, he said. They should also let their physician know if they pl
|Contact: Lisa Esposito|
Center for the Advancement of Health