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Research Suggests Breast Cancer Fatigue Begins Before Chemo

y, which was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, a division of the National Institutes of Health, was to determine the best ways to reduce fatigue during chemotherapy and to prevent chronic fatigue after treatment.

Researchers measured sleep and activity patterns during the 48 hours prior to the first chemotherapy treatment using wristwatch-sized activity monitors called actigraphs.

Fatigue, the most prevalent and distressing symptom for breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, has long been accepted by health professionals and patients alike as a side effect of treatment. Researchers say there are ways to intervene, and now they have found it may be important to intervene during the recovery period after breast cancer surgery.

Researchers say disrupted sleep, low daytime activity and reduced activity are all likely to contribute to mild fatigue before chemotherapy - and moderate to severe fatigue after chemo. That means fatigue needs to be addressed before and after surgery. Women typically begin chemotherapy three to four weeks after surgery.

Dr. Berger said because inactivity contributes to fatigue, she and colleagues believe women need to rest for several days after surgery, but also regain activity when theyre able. Weve been telling patients for years to rest and take it easy, but in some cases, were finding the patients who remain inactive are the ones who report higher fatigue.

Cancer-related fatigue can have a profound impact on an individuals life with significant physical, emotional, social and economic consequences that may persist for months or years after completing treatment. Even after treatment ends, between 30 and 50 percent of patients say their fatigue remains at least six months. Sometimes they say it never goes away.

Fatigue related to cancer treatment is described as a distressing, persistent, sense of tiredness or exhaustion that is no
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