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Fatigue in patients with advanced cancer who are at the end of life
  1. Patricia O’Regan, College Lecturer
  1. School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, Cork. Email: p.oregan{at}


The quality of life for virtually all patients with advanced cancer is impaired by one or more symptoms that may affect their physical, psychological, social, emotional or spiritual wellbeing. A high percentage of patients with advanced cancer suffer debilitating fatigue that has a severe and profound impact on their lives. Fatigue may be caused or exacerbated by numerous factors, including the disease itself and its treatment, or multiple other interrelating symptoms such as dyspnoea, cachexia, anaemia and psychological distress. Continuous assessment of fatigue is a critical component of care for the patient with this debilitating symptom. Initial assessment should incorporate a detailed description of the patient’s fatigue history, its development, symptoms of the condition and any potential causes. Individualised management strategies that may include a combination of interventions can be administered to meet the specific needs of each patient. This article examines the nature of fatigue in advanced cancer, possible causes and pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment strategies. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Advanced cancer
  • End-of-life care
  • Fatigue assessment
  • Fatigue management
  • Palliative care

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