Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers around the world. Chinese breast cancer patients usually experience a cluster of overlapping physical and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, stress and pain. Cancer-related fatigue feeling is often confused with tiredness, and always being underestimated its severity. The present study aimed at exploring the level of fatigue among Chinese breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment.
78 Chinese breast cancer participants who are going to start the radiotherapy treatment had been recruited from two Hong Kong local hospitals and three cancer support organizations. Participants also invited to complete a set of questionnaire on their fatigue level, perceived stress, pain, anxious and depressive mood and quality of life before undergoing the radiotherapy treatment.
Participants reported high severity of fatigue level were positively associated with pain severity (p<.01), pain interference (p<.01), higher anxiety level (p<.05), higher depressive mood (p<.01) and higher perceived stress (p<.05) than those experienced low fatigue severity level. In participants who experienced low severity level were more likely to experience the positive physical well-being (p<.01), emotional well-being and functional well-being than high fatigue level participants. Regression analysis showed that age of participants is a possible predictor to their fatigue level (r = .237). Younger participants (aged below 50) were experiencing higher fatigue severity level than participants age beyond 50 (p<.05).
Research finding suggests that cancer-related fatigue relates to different physical and psychological dimensions of patients. Better management of fatigue would be helpful on reducing other distressing symptoms among Chinese breast cancer patients.
Acknowledgement: This study is supported by the Research Grants Council General Research Fund (HKU745110H), Hong Kong Cancer Fund, Queen Mary Hospital and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.