Fatigue, emotional distress may suggest other problems too

A newly published study reports that, in patients who have been or are being treated for prostate cancer, “Nurses should be more alert to the possibility of additional treatment-related symptoms when fatigue or emotional distress is present.” Clearly, such a finding is also something patients and their family members or caregivers should be conscious of as well.

This study by Maliski et al. was designed to  identify symptom clusters that include urinary and erectile dysfunction among men treated for prostate cancer. Data were collected on 402 men for a longitudinal prostate cancer quality-of-life study. The major research variables were:pain, fatigue, emotional distress, and urinary, sexual, and bowel dysfunction.

The authors report that 33 percent of patients reported scores on three or more quality-of-life measures falling in the lowest quartile for that measure. Although composition of the clusters was not consistent, poor mental health or poor energy was a component of any cluster made up of three or more symptoms.

The authors conclude that their approach enabled them to explore how symptom clusters measuring general and disease-specific quality of life occurred in patients who have been treated for prostate cancer. They report that when such clusters occur, fatigue and emotional distress often are included. They go on to state that,  “Fatigue and emotional distress may be seen together or in combination with prostate cancer-specific symptoms.”

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