Radiation Causes Fatigue That Gets Better With Time

There is good news for women who have early stage breast cancer and require treatment with radiation. Although fatigue is a common experience, only about 6% of women treated suffer from fatigue 1 year later.

A new study of 218 Australian women with early stage breast cancer treated with either adjuvant radiation, chemotherapy, or both, can be found here Journal of Clinical Oncology. It was published April 16th.

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) affected 24% of the women who were treated, but by 6 months, that number had been reduced to 11%, and that number reduced to 6% at the end of 1 year.

The study was completed by interviewing the women every 3 months for 1 year after treatment ended and once again 5-years after treatment ended. To be sure the fatigue wasn’t due to other causes, women who still felt fatigued at 6 months were examined to be sure other reasons such as depression and thyroid problems weren’t the cause.

Larger tumors that required more radiation caused a greater likelihood of CRF. As you might expect, the worse the radiation fatigue, the more it affected the women and the more likely they were to seek medical help.

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