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Wayne State researcher gives new name to exhaustion suffered by cancer patients
Date:3/8/2013

DETROIT The fatigue experienced by patients undergoing cancer treatments has long been recognized by health care providers, although its causes and ways to manage it are still largely unknown.

A Wayne State University researcher believes the condition affects some patients much more than others and is trying to determine the nature of that difference.

Horng-Shiuann Wu, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing in the College of Nursing, has made an effort to chronicle the parameters of what she calls sudden exhaustion syndrome. Her study, "Definition, Prevalence and Characteristics of Sudden Exhaustion: A Possible Syndrome of Fatigue in Cancer," recently published in the journal Support Care Cancer, is an effort to differentiate between types of cancer-related fatigue (CRF), a condition that affects upwards of 90 percent of patients who undergo major treatments and 30 to 67 percent of cancer survivors.

"CRF is something that goes far beyond just being tired," Wu said. "It's more draining, more intense, lasts longer than typical fatigue and is often unexpected."

As a graduate student, Wu became interested in a subset of patients who reported fatigue as a "hit-the-wall" moment that came on suddenly, left them barely able to move and often forced them to lie down immediately until the episode passed.

CRF has been well documented, but while many clinicians and researchers have heard anecdotally from patients about suddenly "hitting the wall," such reports have not been addressed directly by studies.

Wu's team studied 114 breast cancer chemotherapy patients aged 31 to 67 from a Midwestern clinic and an urban teaching hospital. Participants were screened for sudden fatigue and completed a questionnaire on the day of their chemotherapy treatment. Descriptive statistics were used to examine the prevalence and clinical characteristics of sudden fatigue episodes, including an intensity rating system from one to 10
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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