Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) has been documented as 1 of the most distressing symptoms reported by breast cancer survivors. CRF affects functioning and impacts quality of life. Possible causal factors include physical conditions, affective and cognitive states, proinflammatory cytokines, and metabolic factors. Several common problems are associated with CRF in women with breast cancer, including treatment side effects, obesity, arm/upper quadrant symptoms, sleep disturbances, psychological effects, and comorbid conditions. In this article, the authors review the state of the knowledge regarding these issues and nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic interventions for CRF. Physical activity and psychosocial interventions are recommended for practice. Numerous limitations of past studies need to be considered in the design of future studies. CRF is prevalent in preoperative, postoperative, and ongoing surveillance phases. Throughout the continuum of care for women with breast cancer, clinicians must screen, further assess as indicated, and treat CRF, because it is associated with emotional distress and limits function and willingness to exercise.
Copyright © 2012 American Cancer Society.