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Breast Cancer-related Fatigue in Survivors Triggered by Depression and Pain

A Spanish study establishes the factors associated with tiredness in cancer survivors to improve their quality of life and rehabilitation. In Spain, 5-year survival following breast cancer diagnosis is more than 83%. Around 66% suffer fatigue following treatment.

«Cancer-related fatigue is the symptom that most limits quality of life and is most common in patients that survive cancerous processes,» explained Manuel Arroyo, researcher from the University of Granada and lead author of a study that links psychological disorders and physical pain episodes with fatigue after treating a breast tumour.

More than 66% of breast cancer survivors suffer tiredness following recovery, caused directly by the disease, physical deterioration or the treatment received. Therefore, understanding the factors related with fatigue and how they can be alleviated optimises survivors’ recovery.

Fifty-nine female patients treated for breast cancer were followed-up one year after having clinically overcome the disease. The researchers assessed their psychological and physical condition as well as different aspects linked to the typical medical symptoms following a cancerous process (tiredness, pain, limited movement, depression, etc.).

A statistical procedure (resampling) allowed inferences to be made similar to those that would be obtained from larger samples. «This method means that the data were more reliable and eliminated the problem of having a reduced sample size,» explained Arroyo. «It is difficult to find volunteers because patients are not often very willing to participate in research after having been through such harsh treatment.»