A University of Nebraska Medical Center study showed that even before women with breast cancer undergo chemotherapy, they experience fatigue and sleep disturbance and activity levels. The researchers say their findings suggest that health professionals should address fatigue following breast cancer surgery.
Researchers say controlling fatigue after surgery - before starting chemotherapy - is important because fatigue typically increases during chemotherapy. Between 70 to 95 per cent of patients of breast cancer while fatigue during chemotherapy.
"We found women are not in the chemotherapy in the best shape possible," said Ann Berger, Ph.D., professor of nursing Niedfelt, UNMC College of Nursing, who has conducted several studies over the past 15 years related to fatigue in cancer patients. "It makes it more difficult to reduce fatigue during treatment. If you start with fatigue, it is likely to grow."
"We as health professionals need to deal with fatigue and sleep more quickly," said Dr. Berger, principal investigator of the study. "If women have problems sleeping after surgery we need to address this problem before women begin chemotherapy. "What we learned might explain why we have problems to reduce fatigue in breast cancer during chemotherapy."
The study has just published the first results of a five-year, $ 1.5 million grant Dr. Berger and his team received in 2003. The aim of the study, 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 physical activity during the 48 hours before the first use of chemotherapy demonstrates activity monitors called Actigraph size.
Fatigue, the most frequent and distressing symptom of breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, has long been accepted by health professionals and patients as a side effect of treatment. Researchers say there are ways to intervene, and now they found in May it is important to intervene during the recovery period after surgery for breast cancer.
The researchers say disrupted sleep, low daytime activity and / or reduction of the activity are likely to contribute to a slight fatigue before chemotherapy and moderate to severe fatigue after chemo. They say that fatigue must be addressed before and after surgery. Women usually begin chemotherapy for three to four weeks after surgery.
Dr. Berger said because inactivity contributes to fatigue, she and her colleagues say that women need to rest for several days after the operation, they must try to regain the activity when they are able. "We have been telling patients for years to relax and take easy, but in some cases, we find patients who remain inactive are the next higher fatigue."
Fatigue related to cancer can have a profound impact on the life of an individual with a physical, emotional, social, and economic consequences in May persist for months or years after finishing treatment. Even after treatment ends, between 30 and 50 percent of patients reported that their fatigue remains at least six months, or never disappear.
Fatigue related to a treatment against cancer is described as a painful, persistent, sense of fatigue or exhaustion that is not proportional to the activity. Factors associated with fatigue are the presence and severity of anxiety, pain, reduce the quality of sleep, physical inactivity and poor performance, leaving little desire to work or socialize.
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