According to a team of researchers that focused on the effects of pharmaceuticals meant to keep cancer-linked fatigue away, physical activity and psychological stimulation actually work best than drugs. For their study, the team analyzed 113 past surveys that focused on more than 11,000 adults suffering from various cancers. They concluded that educational and behavioral education along with physical activity are more efficient at keeping fatigue away than prescription medicine. However, the chronic fatigue can be brought about by either the onset of the disease, as well as the treatment.
“Exercise and psychological treatment, and the combination of these two interventions work the best for treating cancer-related fatigue – better than any pharmaceuticals we have tested”, reads the report authored by Karen Mustian, associate professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Wilmot Cancer Institute in Rochester, New York.
Hence, the team of researchers believes doctors who have delivered a cancer diagnosis should consider physical activity and psychological interventions as the first line of defense against cancer-linked fatigue, rather than medication. In their study, the researchers noted that fatigue is a common symptom among all cancer patients. The American Cancer Society backs up their claims and adds the phenomenon is very different from routine tiredness. Health experts say that a cancer patient still feels tired even if he or she gets the recommended amount of rest. At one point, some patients cannot even eat without help.
Not only does chronic fatigue affect the quality of life, but it also lowers the chances of cancer patients’ long-term survival, as it interferes with the treatment. As a result, the patients’ overall health declines even more, subsequently trimming down their survival rates considerably, noted the researchers.
The team of researchers focused on fatigue brought on by the onset of the disease, rather than regarding it as a side effect of the treatment. Out of the total number of subjects, 80 percent were women with an average age of 54, battling breast cancer. Also, the researchers ruled out any complementary therapies, except exercise treatments like tai chi or yoga. They concluded that even though some prescription medications, such as modafinil (Provigil) and methylphenidate (Ritalin) are somewhat effective against cancer-linked fatigue, psychological stimulation and physical activity yielded the best results.
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