EAST LANSING, MichiganA study of 841 patients age 65 and older newly diagnosed with breast, colon, lung, or prostate cancer found three predictors of pain and fatigue: advanced stage, more comorbid conditions, and lung cancer, compared with breast cancer (the reference), according to researchers from Michigan State University.
Patients were observed at intake and at 12 to 16, 24 to 30, and 52 weeks. The researchers found that pain and fatigue decreased at each observation over the course of the year of follow-up. Fatigue was more commonly reported than pain (30% vs10%) over the year.
No link was found between advancing age and pain and/or fatigue. After controlling for other variables, women were significantly more likely than men to experience pain and/or fatigue, but this may have been confounded by the fact that the prostate cancer patients were significantly less likely to report either pain or fatigue than the breast patients.
Surgery and radiotherapy were significantly associated with pain and fatigue, and chemotherapy was significantly associated with fatigue, but only within the first 40 days after concluding treatment.
Pain and fatigue correlated with a higher mean number of other symptoms (6 vs 2.5 for those without pain or fatigue). "This fact speaks very strongly to the importance of managing these two symptoms," said lead author Charles Given, PhD (J Pain Symptom Manage 21:456-466, 2001).