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Cancer-related fatigue: results from patient experience surveys undertaken in a UK regional cancer centre

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Abstract

Purpose

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is a common but under reported symptom significantly impacting on cancer patients’ quality of life. The purpose of these surveys was to drive improvements in the provision of support of patients with CRF.

Method

Two surveys were conducted to determine the incidence and impact of cancer-related fatigue (CRF) amongst patients attending a Cancer Centre (CC) for radiotherapy and/or systemic anti-cancer therapy.

Results

Survey 1: retrospective examination of 68 patients’ clinical notes. Survey 2: a questionnaire distributed prospectively to 148 patients whilst attending for treatment. Survey 1 identified 29 patients’ notes recording the patient experiencing fatigue, but only two were given any advice to manage symptoms. In survey 2, the majority of patients (86 %) were advised about the risk of CRF before treatment, but only 67 % were assessed and advised about CRF during treatment. Physical fatigue (57 %) was more common than emotional (37 %) or cognitive fatigue (29 %).

Conclusions

Many patients are not being given advice to manage their CRF symptoms. Reasons for this include a lack of awareness regarding the occurrence of CRF and its impact and a misunderstanding by Health Care Professionals (HCPs) about the advice patients should be given. Recommendations include the continued need to improve education of HCPs to ensure patients receive the appropriate advice they need to manage their CRF.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Cathy Wilson for establishing the Fatigue Interest Group and her help in initiating the service evaluation. Margaret Camps and Judith Hirst also assisted in collecting patient data.

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No conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Sarah James.

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James, S., Wright, P., Scarlett, C. et al. Cancer-related fatigue: results from patient experience surveys undertaken in a UK regional cancer centre. Support Care Cancer 23, 2089–2095 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-014-2565-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-014-2565-9

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