For patients suffering with cancer-related fatigue, indulging in exercise — such as gentle yoga, walking, running or cycling — and/or psychological therapies may work better than medications and should be recommended first to patients, researchers say.
Fatigue in cancer patients is the most common side effect caused by treatment with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and some biologic therapies.
This type of fatigue is different from being chronically tired. It’s a crushing sensation that’s not relieved by rest or sleep, and can persist for months or years.
“If a cancer patient is having trouble with fatigue, rather than looking for extra cups of coffee, a nap, or a pharmaceutical solution, consider a 15-minute walk,” said lead author Karen Mustian, Associate Professor at the University of Rochester, New York.
The findings showed that exercise alone — whether aerobic or anaerobic — reduced cancer-related fatigue most significantly.
Psychological interventions, such as therapy designed to provide education, change personal behaviour and adapt the way a person thinks about his or her circumstances, also helped in reducing fatigue.