Chemotherapy-Induced Fatigue Correlates With Higher Fatigue Scores Before Treatment

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Cancer chemotherapy can induce fatigue in about 20% to 30% of patients. So far, there is very little information as to the predictors of chemotherapy-induced fatigue (CIF). We evaluated potential predictors of CIF in a sample of patients with cancer with several types of solid tumors scheduled to receive chemotherapy according to institutional protocols.


Before their first and second chemotherapy cycles, patients answered to the Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), Chalder, Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA), Stress thermometer, and HADS questionnaires as well as provided blood samples for inflammatory markers.


We evaluated 52 patients, 37 (71%) were female and mean age was 53 years. The most common tumors were breast cancer 21 (40%) and gastrointestinal tumors 12 (23%). Although 14 (25.2%) patients had an increase in their fatigue BFI scores equal or above 3 points from baseline, we observed no significant overall differences between BFI scores before and after chemotherapy. The only 2 factors associated with an increase of 3 points in the BFI scores after chemotherapy were race and higher baseline BFI levels. By multivariate analysis, overall BFI and Chalder scores after chemotherapy also correlated significantly with their respective baseline scores before treatment. HADS scores before treatment correlated with overall BFI scores postchemotherapy, whereas MNA scores before chemotherapy and female sex correlated with higher Chalder scores after treatment.


We conclude that fatigue induced by chemotherapy is common and consistently associated with higher fatigue scores before treatment. Screening for fatigue before chemotherapy may help to identify patients who are prone to develop CIF.

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