Cancer Patients' Secondary Symptoms Need Attention:
MONDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Many cancer patients with
pain or depression also experience physical symptoms, such as
fatigue, dry mouth and nausea, that can cause disability, a new
Doctors need to recognize and treat these symptoms in order to
improve quality of life for cancer patients, said Dr. Kurt Kroenke,
of the Richard Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indiana University, and
Regenstrief Institute Inc. in Indianapolis, and colleagues.
They analyzed data from 405 cancer patients who had either pain
or depression and found that all the patients had at least one of
22 physical symptoms examined in the study. More than half of
patients reported 15 of the 22 symptoms.
The most common symptoms were fatigue (97.5 percent), difficulty
sleeping (about 79 percent), pain in limbs or joints (78 percent),
back pain (nearly 75 percent) and memory problems (72 percent).
The patients also reported an average of almost 17 disability
days in the previous four weeks, including 5.7 days in bed and 11.2
days where they reduced their activity by 50 percent or more.
Thirty-two percent of patients reported three to five outpatient
visits in the previous three months; 28 percent had six to 10
visits, and 26 percent had more than 10 visits. Thirty-eight
percent were hospitalized at least once, and one-third visited the
emergency department one or more times.
The findings are published Oct. 11 in the journal
Archives of Internal Medicine.
"This study strengthens the case for improving the recognition and treatment of somatic symptoms in patients with cancer," the researchers said in a news release from the journal publisher.
"Given the strong association with disability and the high prevalence of many types of symptoms, recognizing and managing [physical] symptoms may be important in improving quality of life and functional status regardless of type or phase of cancer," they concluded.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
cancer patients and fatigue.
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