Medline: 9534184

Oncology (Huntington NY)


Fatigue is a common and troubling symptom in patients with cancer or HIV/AIDS, resulting in significant disability and adverse effects on quality of life. Its etiology remains complex and is most likely multifactorial. Despite its impact and prevalence, fatigue is often overlooked and undertreated in these patient populations. The general perceptions of fatigue are that its etiology cannot be determined, it is an inevitable manifestation that must be endured, and few interventions are available. Efforts are ongoing to better understand the etiology, characteristics, and consequences of fatigue in patients with cancer or HIV/AIDS. New practical methods of assessing it in cancer patients are now available. In order to improve the quality of life in these patients, physicians need to reassess their perceptions of fatigue and their approach to its diagnosis and management. There are recognizable causes and correlates for which interventions can be beneficial. These include anemia, pain, infection/fever, hormonal or nutritional deficiencies, depression/anxiety, sleep disturbances, and excessive inactivity or rest. Physicians should fully evaluate patients to identify the factors amenable to management. Fatigue is also seldom discussed by patients and their physicians. Improved communication with and counseling of patients and their caregivers can play an important role in the effective assessment and management of fatigue in patients with cancer or HIV/AIDS. Many patients may benefit from wider implementation of recent advances in the understanding and treatment of fatigue in these oncologic and infectious conditions.

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Rheinische Friedrich- Wilhelms- Universität Bonn
Medical Center

Dr. G. Quade