Fatigue and Quality of Life Following Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer: A Comparative Study

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Abstract

Clinical reports suggest that fatigue is a common and disruptive long-term side effect of radiotherapy; however, there has been little systematic attention given to this phenomenon. The primary aim of this study was to assess fatigue its impact on quality of life in women who had completed radiotherapy for breast cancer. A key feature of this study was the inclusion of a comparison group of women of similar age with no history of cancer. The results indicated that the fatigue experienced by women after radiotherapy for breast cancer was not significantly different in intensity, duration, or disruptiveness from fatigue experienced by healthy women. In addition, radiotherapy recipients reported a quality of life similar to that of the healthy women. For both groups of women greater fatigue was related to a poorer quality of life. These findings suggest that following radiotherapy for breast cancer, women can expect to experience fatigue which is not worse than what they might “normally” experience. This information may be a useful part of psychoeducational interventions designed for women scheduled to begin radiotherapy for breast cancer.