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Cancer-related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Review

      Abstract

      Fatigue has been the most distressing and frequent symptom in breast cancer (BC) survivors after treatment. Although fatigue can occur in other cancer survivors, women with a history of BC might share some distinctive features. The present study aimed to recapitulate the knowledge about risk factors and correlates of cancer-related fatigue (CRF) in BC survivors after oncologic therapy. An electronic data search was conducted in PubMed using the terms “fatigue,” “breast,” “cancer,” and “survivors.” Records were included if they were original articles, available in English, had used a quantitative scale, had > 100 participants, and had excluded women with BC relapse. BC survivors were required to have finished their treatments ≥ 2 months before, except for hormonal therapy. The physiopathology and other interventions were considered beyond the scope of our review. The correlates were subsequently classified into 7 main categories: (1) sociodemographic data, (2) physical variables, (3) tumor- and treatment-related variables, (4) comorbidities, (5) other symptoms, (6) psychological issues, and (7) lifestyle factors. Fatigue was consistently greater in younger, obese, and diabetic women. Women reporting fatigue often communicated symptoms such as pain, depression, insomnia, and cognitive dysfunction. Coping strategies such as catastrophizing could play an important role in the persistence of fatigue. However, tumor characteristics, previous treatments received, and physical activity were not consistently reported. CRF was a strong predictor of the quality of life of BC survivors after treatment. In conclusion, we found CRF was a frequent and serious symptom that severely affects the quality of life of BC survivors after treatment. Health practitioners require more awareness and information about CRF.

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