Research performed at the University of Rochester in New York suggests that fatigue induced by cancer can be fought more easily not via medication, but if patients involve in exercise and undergo psychological therapies.
If cancer patients start performing gentle yoga, cycling, running, or even just walking, and combine exercise with psychological help, they might be combating fatigue more effectively than if they used only medication.
Fatigue is one of the most common side effects that occurs in cancer patients after chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or certain biological therapies. It is different from chronic fatigue, since it is a persistent sensation that does not go away after rest or sleep, and it might be present for months or even years.
Karen Mustian, the lead author and an associate professor at the University of Rochester, advises cancer patients to give up pharmaceutical solutions, extra naps, or coffee if they want to get rid of fatigue and choose instead to take a quick walk. The research shows that any type of exercise can significantly reduce this feeling.
Also, a person can undergo some special psychological treatment, such as special therapy that informs patients on what it happens to them, tries to change their behavior and their way of thinking regarding the disease and generally helps them feel better. The study also showed that such psychological methods are also helpful in the fight with fatigue.
Also, the researchers looked at drugs that are usually recommended to treat fatigue. They include modafinil, a stimulant that is usually used for narcolepsy, and Ritalin, a drug used in the treatment of ADHD. They found that these drugs are not so effective in treating cancer-related fatigue.
The scientists put together the results of 113 unique studies that involved more than 11,000 cancer patients. Their final results were published in the journal JAMA Oncology.
Fatigue can have great consequences if it is not fought and treated. It can either appear because of the disease or of its treatment methods, but it can have a huge impact on patients since it decreases the chances of survival.
If cancer patients struggle with severe fatigue, they are less likely to complete the medical treatments that are vital in fighting the disease. Thus, all patients that experience this symptom should consider exercise as a method to increase their survival chances.
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