Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Exercise and cognitive behaviour therapy are best treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 29 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:710

Rapid Response:

Fibromyalgia - a myth


Doctors Macfarlane, McBeth and Silman report an increased mortality,
particularly from cancer, in people with widespread pain (1). They say
that widespread body pain is a cardinal feature of Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is such a dubious condition that many rheumatologists
dispute its existence as a clinical diagnosis (2). People suffering from
so called Fibromyalgia complain repeatedly and often frustrate their
medical attendants.

One possible reason for increased mortality is that they are regarded
as "heart-sink" patients, so their complaints become less worthy of
attention. Therefore the early symptoms of malignancy are ignored,
leading to late diagnosis.

It would be interesting to know whether cancer was more common in
this group or simply death from cancer.

Fibromyalgia is a dangerous diagnosis. It stops the doctor thinking.

Michael Wright

(1) Macfarlane G J, McBeth J & Silman A J, Widespread body pain
and mortality: prospective population based study. BMJ 2001; 7314:662-
664. (22 September)

(2) Wright M G, Rheumatology 2001; 40: 341-2

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 October 2001
Michael Wright
Consultant Rheumatologist
London W1