Introduction: Despite the high prevalence of asthenia in cancer patients, around 50-75%, and its impact on quality of life, it continues to be a difficult symptom to assess and manage. This study defines the extent of perception and diagnosis of asthenia associated with cancer among Spanish oncologists.
Methods: A descriptive, observational study conducted in Spain based on a five-part structured questionnaire available to participants through a private website.
Results: The 100 oncologists surveyed, most in the public healthcare setting, diagnose asthenia in 58-70% of cases. They consider old age (56.5%) and advanced-stage disease (94.2%) as factors associated with the occurrence of asthenia, which is also common in, particularly, tumours, such as pancreatic cancer (30.4%), and some therapies, notably chemotherapy alone (67%) or combined with radiotherapy (96%). Despite its adequate detection, physicians rarely ask their patients about asthenia, use instruments for its evaluation or assess its impact on quality of life. Likewise, only 40% of all patients are treated, although therapeutic intervention, a multidisciplinary approach combining drug and non-drug treatments and managing a variety of causative factors, can be considered adequate. Finally, 91.5% of those surveyed do not have action guidelines for asthenia in their hospitals.
Conclusions: Even when asthenia is widely diagnosed in cancer patients in Spain, there is a laxity in its assessment and treatment. Increased awareness among healthcare professionals of its impact and relevance is therefore required, as well as adequate protocols for its systematic detection and management within the routine assessment and treatment of cancer patients.