Fatigue is an exceedingly common often treatable problem in cancer patients that profoundly affects all aspects of quality of life. Prevalence estimates have ranged from 50% to 90% of cancer patients overall. After addressing reversible or treatable contributing factors, such as hypothyroidism, anemia, sleep disturbance, pain, emotional distress, climacterium, medication adverse events, metabolic disturbances, or organ dysfunction such as heart failure, myopathy, and pulmonary fibrosis, patients may be screened with a brief fatigue self-assessment tool. All cancer patients should be screened regularly for fatigue. Those with moderate or severe fatigue may benefit from both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions, while mild fatigue that does not interfere with quality of life can be treated with nonpharmacologic measures alone. Physicians often have insufficient knowledge about fatigue and its treatments or underestimate the impact of fatigue on quality of life, while patients may consider it an unavoidable and untreatable side-effect and fear that reporting it may incite a change toward less aggressive cancer treatment. A practical review may therefore be useful to health care professionals in order to avoid the common barriers to its treatment that exist on the sides of both physicians and patients.
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