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Prospective evaluation of the prevalence and severity of fatigue in patients with prostate cancer undergoing radical external beam radiotherapy and ne
Radiation Therapy Program, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver Island Cent
Jun  2006 (Vol.  13, Issue  3, Pages( 3139 - 3146)


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    To prospectively evaluate the prevalence and severity of fatigue and its impact on quality of life (QOL) during and after radical external beam radiotherapy (RT) for prostate cancer. METHOD AND MATERIALS: Twenty-eight men with prostate cancer undergoing RT over 6-8 consecutive weeks were prospectively accrued. The Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), a validated fatigue assessment tool, was administered at five time points: baseline (week 1), middle of RT (week 3-4), end of RT (last week of RT), and follow-up (median 6.5 weeks after RT). The BFI contained nine questions, each using 0-10 ratings to quantify fatigue severity and interference with six QOL domains. The prevalence of moderate-severe fatigue was plotted as a function of time. Mean sum and subscale scores at each time point were compared to baseline scores using Wilcoxon tests. Linear regression analyses were performed to assess associations between fatigue scores and age, tumor and treatment characteristics.


    The median age was 69 years (range 57-84), Gleason score 7 (range 6-10), and presenting PSA 9.0 ng/mL (range 2.5 ng/mL-103.0 ng/mL). Patients were treated once daily to a median dose of 74 Gy (range 60 Gy-78 Gy) over a median of 37 fractions (range 30-39). Hormone therapy was used in all patients (median duration 12.2 months). The prevalence of moderate-severe present fatigue increased from 7% at baseline to 8% at mid-RT and 32% at RT completion. Compared to baseline (mean score 11.5), fatigue increased significantly mid-RT (mean score 14.6, p = 0.03) and peaked at the end of RT (mean score 23.5, p = 0.001). Fatigue significantly interfered with walking ability, normal work, daily chores, and enjoyment of life only at the end of RT. After RT completion, fatigue improved but remained higher compared to baseline at 6.5 weeks of follow-up (mean score 15.0, p = 0.02). On linear regression analysis, age, Gleason score, PSA, T-stage, hormone therapy duration, RT dose and fractions were not significantly associated with mean fatigue scores.


    Patients undergoing 6-8 weeks of RT experienced significant fatigue adversely affecting QOL persisting after therapy completion. Since walking ability was not affected until the end of RT, a walking exercise intervention to combat fatigue is likely feasible and is being investigated.