Editorials

Fatigue in cancer

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7302.1560 (Published 30 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1560

Like pain, this is a symptom that physicians can and should manage

  1. Gregory A Curt, clinical director
  1. National Cancer Institute, NIH Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

    A consensus is emerging among patients, caregivers, and oncologists that cancer related fatigue is the most important untreated symptom in cancer today. This fact is probably due to improved management options for other symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment such as pain, depression, and nausea and vomiting. However, though the problem is real, it is rarely discussed and seldom treated. Both patients and physicians may view cancer related fatigue as something to be endured rather than a symptom amenable to differential diagnosis and treatment. Research currently underway should begin to change this perspective and offer effective approaches to treatment.

    This research has begun to focus both on the impact of fatigue on patients and on oncologists' attitudes towards fatigue as a symptom. In one recent study patients and oncologists agreed on the presence of significant fatigue in 75% of patients.1 However, they disagreed on its importance. While 61% of patients …

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