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Fox Chase Cancer Center Recognizes Third Annual Cancer Fatigue Awareness Day

PHILADELPHIA (April 6, 2000) -- Fatigue is the most common and disruptive symptom experienced by people with cancer. Healthcare professionals can help their patients to manage this often debilitating side effect in a variety of ways. To help raise awareness, Fox Chase Cancer Center is observing the third annual Cancer Fatigue Awareness Day today, April 6, 2000.

"Unlike fatigue resulting from overwork or lack of sleep, cancer-related fatigue is chronic and debilitating. It causes a significant decline in quality of life and may not be relieved by rest," said Andrea M. Barsevick, DNSc, RN, AOCN, director of Research and Education for Nursing at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

More than 75 percent of people being treated for cancer experience fatigue. A frequent cause is anemia, which can be triggered by the treatments, the cancer itself, or other disorders.

The physical symptoms of cancer fatigue include a lack of energy, leg pain, difficulty performing ordinary tasks and shortness of breath after light activities. This type of fatigue is often misunderstood as simple tiredness and need for sleep. Fatigue also can cause emotional and mental difficulties, such as trouble concentrating and thinking clearly, and feelings of despair and frustration.

"However, fatigue can be controlled," Barsevick continued. "Through a combination of energy-conservation strategies, exercise, nutrition and techniques to focus attention, people with cancer and their families can improve their lives."

Barsevick is conducting research, which compares two educational programs about fatigue management.

"We are trying to understand factors that reduce or increase fatigue, such as type of treatment, other symptoms like pain or sleep disruption and family support," she explained. "Fatigue is a very common side effect of cancer therapy. I believe that health care professionals need to acknowledge fatigue and learn how to help patients minimize its effect. That's the focus of our research-to identify ways to help cancer patients minimize the intrusion of fatigue in their daily lives," she continued.

While medical science has been making steady progress in treating cancer itself, cancer-related fatigue is frequently overlooked and undertreated. Patients may not report it, and clinicians are focused on other indicators. For some patients, however, treating fatigue is as important as treating the disease.

The Fatigue Management Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center is designed for cancer patients experiencing fatigue at any stage of the treatment or recovery process. The program starts with an exercise evaluation and an exercise program and is followed by education about potential causes and management strategies for fatigue.

For more information on cancer fatigue, please call 1-888-FOX CHASE.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the center's web site at:

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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