Severe fatigue and related factors in cancer patients before the initiation of treatment

M M Goedendorp, M F M Gielissen, C A H Verhagen, M E J W Peters, G Bleijenberg

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It is generally known that fatigue is a common symptom during cancer treatment, and in cancer survivors. However, fatigue was never studied after diagnosis, before cancer treatment was initiated. This study investigated the prevalence of severe fatigue, and related factors, in cancer patients before the initiation of treatment. One hundred and seventy-nine patients with various malignancies were assessed before start of treatment with curative intention, including the Checklist Individual Strength, Sickness Impact Profile, Beck Depression Inventory Primary Care, Symptom Checklist-90, and six Numeric Rating Scales to measure fatigue, pain and physical activity. To test which factors contributed to severe fatigue a logistic regression analysis was performed. In total 23.5% patients were severely fatigued, varying between diagnoses; prostate cancer (14.3%), breast cancer (20.3%), and gastrointestinal cancer (28.1%). Currently lower physical activity (P=0.013), more depressive mood (P=0.014), impaired sleep and rest during the day and night (P=0.045), and fatigue 1 year before diagnosis (P=0.005) contributed to severe fatigue. Relatively large numbers of cancer patients already experience severe fatigue before initiation of treatment, varying between 14-28%. The factors that contributed to severe fatigue at this stage were physical activity, depressive mood, impaired sleep and rest, and fatigue 1 year before diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1408-14
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety/complications
  • Depression/complications
  • Fatigue/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Neoplasms/complications
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep Wake Disorders/complications


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