Mechanisms

Because CRF can affect functional activities and decrease QOL, investigating its mechanisms is not only warranted but imperative. In response to this challenge and in recognition of the increasing attention being paid to this area of concern, many excellent reviews have been published over the past several years summarizing the current state of knowledge in this area (e.g., refs. 20, 22, 32, 37, 39, 49, and 52). In the remainder of this chapter we will attempt to highlight some of the more common theories and views with an emphasis on the interrelation of causative factors. As a transition into the role of muscle function in CRF we will highlight the role of exercise as an effective treatment for CRF. Finally, we will expand upon the role of muscle function and other factors affecting energy production as potential components of CRF. In general, a role for altered muscle function in CRF has not been addressed in depth in previous reviews.

Depression: Depression is a mood disorder with emotional and physical symptoms, some of which are difficult to separate from CRF. The presence of depression in cancer survivors has been described as two to three times that in the general population.53 The prevalence of major depression in the cancer population has been reported to be as high as 53%.35,54-57 The physical and emotional symptoms of depression include fatigue, anorexia, changes in sleep patterns, decreased concentration, loss of interest, and feelings of hopelessness.35,58 The prevalence of depression and its relationship to fatigue makes it a significant symptom in cancer survivors that warrants its own chapter in this volume.

The association between depression and fatigue may seem self-evident because fatigue is itself a symptom of depression, and it is difficult to separate fatigue from depression or other mood disturbances such as anxiety, or stress.58-60 For example, in women with uterine cancer the correlation between depression and fatigue was r = 0.71.61 Fatigue was also associated with higher levels of depression, pain, and sleep disturbance in breast cancer survivors,10 with depression and pain being the strongest predictors of fatigue. The Fatigue Coalition Study reported that survivors who experienced fatigue on a daily basis were more likely to have reported depression than those reporting fatigue only a few days each month (32% vs. 14%).2 For long-term survivors of testicular cancer, 10-30 years post-treatment, CRF was predicted by both depression and anxiety.12 While it is tempting to suggest that depression or other "non-physiological" factors may be most important for the long-term cancer survivor, it has also been suggested that CRF in long-term survivors of Hodgkins disease is more strongly associated with physical, not psychological, well-being.6 Proper management of fatigue in the long-term cancer survivor will be dependent on the ability to correctly separate the effects of depression from other factors affecting CRF.

Because fatigue is part of the symptomatology of depression it is not surprising that significant correlations have been reported between fatigue and depression. It is this overlapping symptomatology that makes delineating the independent contribution of depression to CRF so difficult. This difficulty is compounded by the mul-tifactorial nature of both depression and fatigue. As an example, if fatigue results purely from a chronic medical condition such as cancer or neurologic disease then depression scales that do not adequately differentiate physical or vegetative from psychological symptoms, such as mood, may overestimate the degree of depression or fail to provide a clear rationale for treatment.62 Thus, while it is clear that there is an interrelationship between fatigue and depression, some cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal symptoms are more specific to clinical depressive disorder than CRF.58 These factors include self-devaluation, sense of a threatening future, hostile and frightening surroundings, and the emotional symptoms of emptiness and deadness.58 Therefore, it is just as critical to recognize and measure depression as a multidimensional construct as it is to measure fatigue as such.

Finally, as difficult as it may be to separate fatigue from depression, it has to be emphasized that depression and CRF are not synonymous. For example, breast cancer survivors receiving chemotherapy who received the serotonin reuptake inhibitor paroxetine showed a decrease in depression but no change in CRF.63 In both breast cancer25 and prostate cancer24 survivors treated with radiation therapy, CRF was reported in the absence of depression. It can be concluded from these studies that fatigue, at least during radiation therapy, may be independent of depression. However, these earlier results differ from some of our own preliminary work that showed a significant correlation between depression and CRF after but not before radiation therapy in prostate and lung cancer survivors.42

While the relationship between depression and cancer is readily acknowledged, this does not imply causality or directionality. While depression may contribute to fatigue the converse may also be true. Fatigue, due to cancer or its treatment, and independent from depression, may itself contribute to a component of depression directly or secondarily through decreased QOL, deconditioning, or other related physical or psychological factors. Finally, depression and fatigue could both be secondary to some other common precipitating factor such as an altered hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) activation.32,59,64 Altered HPA function could occur from changes in cytokine production or as a reaction to stress or anxiety. Clearly, the relationship between depression and CRF is complex and it forms the basis for ongoing research.58,59

Cytokines: Cytokines are polypeptide mediators involved in cellular communication, generally associated with functions of the immune or inflammatory process. They are released primarily by activated monocytes and macrophages as well as tumor cells or could result from exogenous treatment.38,44,65 The most commonly cited cytokines with purported involvement in CRF are pro-inflammatory and include tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interferons.38 There exists a normal balance between cytokines and their antagonists. This balance can be disrupted with cancer or its treatment leading to excessive production. Cancer, like other chronic inflammatory processes, is mediated by endogenous cytokines, and dysregulation in their production can cause activation of the HPA axis or fatigue.38,66-69 A role for cytokines in CRF is strongly indicated because cytokines have been implicated in depression,66,67 alterations of HPA axis activation,67,68 cachexia,38,40 and anemia.38 As with depression, altered HPA axis activation, cachexia or muscle wasting, and anemia may be important mechanisms of CRF.

Hypothalamic—Pituitary—Adrenal Axis: A hypothesis that has recently been receiving well-deserved attention is that an altered hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis may be responsible for both depression and fatigue resulting from cancer or its treatment.32,59 This hypothesis is theoretically grounded because hypercorti-solemia resulting from increased HPA axis activation can be associated with depressive illness64,70,71 as well as with fatigue in some neurologic disease.72 However, any relationship between an altered HPA axis and fatigue is not straightforward because in the chronic fatigue syndrome, the symptom of fatigue tends to be associated with hypo- not hypercortisolemia.73 Thus, a relationship between HPA axis dysfunction and fatigue could be from hyper- or hypocortisolemia. This example also illustrates that care must be taken when comparing CRF to the fatigue syndromes of other pathologies associated with fatigue of unknown origin.

Excessive HPA axis activation in cancer survivors is intriguing because it could arise from a generalized stress or anxiety response (see Chapter 10, 19) with concomitant activation of the sympathetic nervous system.67 74 In this way HPA axis activation may be a precipitating mechanism for the fatigue associated with stress or anxiety. Alternatively the HPA axis could be activated by pro-inflammatory cytokine production.67 69 74 Yet another role for an altered HPA axis in CRF is thorough cytokine-mediated sleep disturbances.75 Disturbed sleep can lead to fatigue in cancer survivors as well as the general population, whether through an altered HPA axis or not (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.).33,34,76 Evidence that HPA axis dysregulation is associated with CRF is provided by evidence in breast cancer survivors 1-5 years after initial diagnosis with completed therapy.77 In these studies CRF was associated with both a flatter diurnal cortisol slope and less rapid evening cortisol decline even after controlling for depression.77 Thus, there may be an important role for altered HPA axis activation in long-term cancer survivors even after the acute effects of treatment are resolved. Cancer-related fatigue is also associated with depression and anxiety in long-term survivors of testicular cancer.12 Cortisol was not measured in these cancer survivors but stress, anxiety, or other psychological distresses are common triggers for HPA axis activation and these factors are also associated with depression. Stress and anxiety specifically related to cancer can include chronic fear of recurrence.78-80 The relationship between HPA axis activation and CRF in long-term cancer survivors is clinically relevant and more studies in long-term cancer survivors with CRF are warranted.

Cachexia: Cachexia is a wasting syndrome comprised of both muscle wasting and a decrease in adipose tissue. It affects about 50% of all cancer patients,40 is a hallmark of advanced cancer, and can lead to decreased overall survival.40,81 Cachexia is a significant deleterious consequence of cancer or its treatment in its own right, with its own extensive body of literature (e.g., refs. 40 and 82). In addition, muscle weakness resulting from the cachexia of cancer has been hypothesized to contribute to CRF.81,83 Muscle wasting and weakness require a person to exert a greater percentage of his maximal force compared to non-cachexic muscle to generate adequate contractile force during ADL. This additional effort may contribute to the symptom of CRF. Loss of muscle protein resulting in cachexia can occur whenever there is an imbalance between anabolic and catabolic processes in the muscle, such that muscle anabolism is diminished, catabolism enhanced, or both.

Decreased anabolism can occur with anorexia or otherwise poor nutritional status and decreased caloric intake, or decreased physical activity.82 Decreased caloric intake, anorexia, or poor nutrition from whatever origin (e.g., depression) is often discussed in the context of cachexia, but it is important to recognize that these factors may lead to CRF independently. Nevertheless, while anorexia or decreased nutritional intake is thought to influence cachexia it cannot fully explain the loss of protein and lipid stores resulting in weight loss.40 If food intake is a primary factor that contributes to cachexia, then supplementation should reverse or attenuate the muscle loss. Human studies have shown that cachexia is not fully reversed by dietary counseling,84 nutritional supplementation,85 or total parenteral nutrition.86 In addition, there is temporal dissociation between cachexia and anorexia such that cachexia has been reported to preceded anorexia.87

Increased catabolism can occur with poor nutritional status and a chronic decrease in physical activity.82 In addition, pro-inflammatory cytokines and tumor-derived factors can have a catabolic effect.38,40,82 Much of the experimental evidence for the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in cachexia centers around the previously described TNF-a, IL-1, IL-6, interferon y (IFN- y), and leukemia-inhibitory factor.40,82,88 If the cachexia-induced changes in body composition lead to increased

CRF then another role for cytokines in CRF can be identified. The role of cytokines in cachexia is supported by studies where the infusion of pro-inflammatory cytokines into animals leads to muscle wasting with increased catabolism and decreased anabolism.89 While cytokines may be important in the development of cachexia, no single factor can fully explain the cachexia observed in cancer patients.

Anemia: Anemia is a reflection of inadequate hemoglobin concentration in the blood and can result from cancer or from its treatment, due to bleeding, hemolysis, or increased cytokine production.36 These effects can be compounded by any nutritional deficits. Anemia can be broadly defined as hemoglobin levels less than 12gm/dL in the blood, although some sources will cite normal values for women 12-14 gm/dL and men 14-15 gm/dL.38 Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, lethargy, decreased exercise tolerance, decreased endurance, and shortness of breath. The anemia seen in cancer patients can result from the disease itself or the myelosuppresive effects ofintervention. The normal negative feedback resulting in an erythropoietin-mediated hemopoietic response is often blunted in the anemia of cancer.38 This may be compounded in part by the pro-inflammatory cytokine-mediated suppression of red blood cell production.38 This cytokine-mediated mechanism results in the inability of the body to respond sufficiently to anemia. This also provides yet another role for cytokine regulation or dysregulation in CRF.

Of all the purported mechanisms of fatigue, anemia is considered to be of known origin as it has one of the most direct and commonly accepted negative effects on fatigue or energy, at least as it pertains to oxygen-dependent mechanisms. In addition, it may be one of the most common known conditions clearly associated with CRF.90 Historically, treatment of anemia with blood transfusion has usually not taken place until hemoglobin falls below 8gm/dL,36,38 despite the observation that symptoms often appear at levels between 8-10 gm/dL. When anemia caused by chemotherapy is reversed with epoeitin alfa, a recombinant human erythropoietin, both fatigue and QOL improves.36,91,92 However, anemia does not fully account for the severity of CRF.93 Of particular interest is recent work in mice that has shown that erythropoietin not only promotes erythrocyte production but also attenuates cachexia by way of decreased IL-6.94

Exercise Intervention: While the fatigue associated with anemia has clear therapeutic indications, exercise is one of the few effective nonpharmacological treatments for CRF.22 Research consistently supports the use of exercise as a countermea-sure to the symptomatic fatigue of cancer,22,95-97 although the mechanisms by which this intervention occurs are not entirely clear. One mechanism by which exercise may improve CRF is through its beneficial effect on negative mood states, such as depression or anxiety.98-100 Although aerobic exercise has typically been used as an intervention, improvements in depression can be independent of any increase in aerobic capacity,99 as might be expected with short-term, low intensity, or resistance exercise. Exercise may have positive effects on immune function (e.g., cytokines),101-103 although this is controversial and any significance to CRF is unknown at present.101 Another mechanism by which exercise decreases CRF is by promoting improvements in or maintenance of muscle function. For example, appropriate exercise could be an effective countermeasure to cachexia-induced weakness through promotion of increased muscle mass.81,104 Exercise could also help counteract anemia-related endurance decreases by increasing oxidative or aerobic capacity. Thus, exercise may exert a beneficial effect on CRF or QOL through changes in muscle function in addition to any improvement in depression or other psychological manifestations of CRF. The specific impact of exercise is covered elsewhere in this volume.

The potential for exercise to benefit CRF through an improvement in muscle function has not attracted much attention and forms the rationale for much of the balance of this chapter. Although the beneficial effect of exercise on CRF is consistent there are many questions that remain to be answered to improve the effectiveness of this important intervention. Among these questions are what is the best mode (e.g., resistance or aerobic exercise), intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise for a particular type of cancer, stage, treatment, or time from treatment. The importance of exercise to cancer survivors cannot be stressed enough. The benefits of regular exercise transcend the context of fatigue, as exercise may decrease overall health risk associated with inactivity. Separate chapters are devoted to this timely topic (see

3.0. NEW DIRECTIONS

3.1. Neuromuscular Function in Cancer-Related Fatigue

Despite the increasing body of research into the overall symptom of fatigue (i.e., CRF) in cancer survivors, muscle fatigue per se has attracted little attention.41-43,105 This is somewhat surprising because muscle fatigue is readily quantifiable and may contribute to or result from CRF. Although it may seem self-evident that muscle fatigue would be a component of the overall symptom of fatigue, such an association has not always been apparent in other chronic diseases presenting with fatigue of unknown origin such as in multiple sclerosis.106,107Thus, it is not known if muscle fatigue in cancer survivors is related to CRF, or if muscle fatigue should be considered an independent clinical or functional entity important in its own right, because adequate muscle capacity is important in ADL, as well as in many recreational pursuits.

Definitions: Although CRF is not so easily defined, muscle fatigue can be defined as a loss of the maximal force generating capacity of muscle.108 This is often indicated by decreased maximal voluntary contraction (i.e., strength) after a fatigue inducing exercise protocol. Endurance is functionally related to muscle fatigue, and can be defined as the time to which a submaximal task can no longer be performed.109 These two processes are reciprocally related where increased muscle fatigability results in decreased muscle endurance.

Pathway of Force Production: A conceptual model by which to study muscle fatigue in cancer survivors is the "pathway of force production."110 This model recognizes that the initial signal for muscle contraction is initiated centrally in the motor cortex. Neural transmission continues down the spinal cord and out to the muscle where neuromuscular transmission occurs. These brain and spinal processes are considered central activation and the events downstream from the spinal cord can be considered peripheral activation. Successful neuromuscular transmission leads to excitation of the sarcolemma, excitation contraction-coupling and ultimately cross-bridge formation and movement resulting in muscle contraction. Intramuscular oxidative energy for the contraction process occurs in the mitochondria and is dependent on the integrity of the electron transport chain as well as on adequate oxygen delivery by the cardiovascular system. If there is a limitation, impairment, or failure along any single site or multiple sites of this pathway then muscle fatigue could result.

Central Factors Affecting Muscle Fatigue: Central neural activation contributions to muscle fatigue can be assessed in its simplest form by comparing changes in maximal voluntary contraction, or strength, to contractions produced by electrical stimulation of a peripheral motor nerve or muscle. This is typically assessed before and after a fatiguing contraction. The electrically evoked contraction is a measure of peripheral muscle function because it activates the muscle independently and downstream from the central motor command. If, after a fatiguing contraction, the loss of voluntary force is proportionally greater than the loss in electrically stimulated force then central activation impairment is thought to have occurred, although the exact mechanism for this impairment may not be known. Another common method of assessing central activation impairment is by supramaximal stimulation of a muscle or its nerve, during a maximal contraction. If additional evoked force is superimposed on the voluntary contraction during supramaximal stimulation then incomplete activation of the muscle is thought to have occurred.110,111 Several variations on this technique are in use, including the interpolated twitch111,112 and the central activation ratio.110 Because the surface electromyogram (EMG) can provide general insight into central neural drive, various indices of the EMG have also been used to indicate central neuromuscular function.105,113 More direct measures of central activation include transcranial magnetic stimulation and recording of the electroencephalogram (EEG).

Many of the factors previously discussed as being important in CRF could potentially result in central activation impairment in cancer survivors. Of particular interest is whether or not centrally mediated muscle fatigue results from fatigue caused by depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, or stress. A correlate of depression could be decreased motivation to maintain a contraction, in which case a central activation limitation would result in decreased endurance. Conversely, decreased endurance or increased muscle fatigue might contribute to depression or CRF which might initiate a positive feedback loop leading to even greater central activation impairment, greater depression, greater fatigue, and so forth. Central activation impairment could also be hypothesized to result in a more direct fashion such as by neural damage, as could be caused by radiation or surgery.114-116

Peripheral Factors Affecting Muscle Fatigue: Peripheral muscle activation is most commonly assessed with electrical stimulation of a muscle or its nerve and elec-tromyography. For example, changes in the compound muscle action potential, or M-wave, can be assessed to indicate alterations in neuromuscular transmission or sarcolemmal excitation.108,110 Muscle metabolites can be measured directly by muscle biopsies and biochemical analyses. A noninvasive in vivo technique with which to study intramuscular metabolism is 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which can measure phosphorus-related energy metabolites (e.g., PCr, Pi, ATP, H+) in conscious humans at rest or during exercise.117,118

There are many factors thought to contribute to CRF that could also affect peripheral muscle function. As with the central nervous system, direct damage to the peripheral nerves114,116,119could affect neural or neuromuscular transmission. Cachexia can result in decreased muscle mass and strength as well as other changes in muscle composition.40,81,88 These changes in muscle could result directly or indirectly in muscle fatigue. A direct effect would be through any biochemical change affecting contractile mechanics. An indirect effect has been described earlier whereby muscle weakness, as opposed to muscle fatigue per se, could result in increased muscle fatigue by virtue of having to perform a given amount of work with a smaller or weaker muscle. Anemia would have a direct effect on oxygen delivery to muscle resulting in decreased muscle endurance. Such an oxygen limitation to peripheral muscle function would also be manifested as a decreased whole body maximal oxygen uptake and resultant systemic fatigue. Finally, decreases in chronic physical activity, as could occur with increased CRF or depression, could result in muscle changes consistent with other conditions of muscle disuse or deconditioning resulting in decreased muscle endurance and strength.

Muscle Fatigue in Cancer Survivors: The few studies that have specifically quantified neuromuscular function in cancer survivors have all reported results consistent with increased muscle fatigue42,43 or other neuromuscular changes.105 In breast-cancer survivors undergoing chemo- or hormonal therapy, with radiation therapy, Bruera and colleagues41 documented increased muscle fatigue in the adductor pol-licis muscle after 30 seconds supramaximal electrical stimulation compared with control subjects. This increase in fatigue was independent of strength which was similar in the survivors and control group.41 These results are consistent with a peripheral origin of muscle fatigue but neither central activation nor CRF was measured.

In prostate cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, Monga et a/.105 examined the force/EMG ratio during fatiguing high intensity isometric contractions of the tibialis anterior before, at 8 weeks of radiation therapy and 6 weeks after therapy. They found evidence of a decrease in the force/EMG ratio before the isometric contraction (i.e., unfatigued) at 8 weeks of radiation therapy compared to the same condition both before and after therapy. This change suggests that a greater neural drive was required for a given force production during treatment, not lesser as might be interpreted. As would be expected, the force/EMG ratio decreased as a result of the fatiguing exercise under all three conditions but the decrease was apparently similar under all conditions (i.e., pre-therapy, during therapy, post-therapy). Thus the significance of an altered force/EMG ratio (during radiation therapy) was unclear and not necessarily related to muscle fatigue. Interpretation of this study was difficult due to the small number of subjects studied and lack of a control group. In this same study, radiation therapy did not result in changes in CRF, depression, or sleepiness all of which were apparently within normal limits.105

Ranganathan and colleagues43 have recently reported decreased endurance of the elbow flexors in 16 cancer survivors with advanced lung, breast, or gastrointestinal cancer reporting fatigue compared to a healthy control group. Cancer survivors were also weaker and had evidence of neuromuscular transmission impairment, as well as central changes in the EEG compared to control.43 It was unclear however if the EEG changes were related to muscle fatigue or CRF.

In our own laboratory,42 we observed that radiation therapy in prostate cancer survivors resulted in significantly decreased muscle endurance at 6 weeks of therapy compared with pretherapy and to a non-cancer control group. Strength was similar in survivor and control groups and the survivor group reported significantly greater CRF measured by the revised Piper Fatigue Scale.23 Muscle testing consisted of intermittent isometric contractions of the tibialis anterior at 40% Maximal Voluntary Contraction (MVC) until task failure. Muscle fatigue at task failure was similar in both cancer survivors and control subjects. Central activation measures were also similar between groups. To support an association between CRF and muscle fatigue, endurance time in the cancer survivors after radiation therapy was significantly correlated to the sensory subscale of the revised Piper Fatigue Scale.23 The sensory subscale measures severity of the physical intensity of fatigue.23 Together, our data showed a decrement in muscle endurance but not strength. These data provide further evidence for peripherally mediated muscle fatigue associated with radiation therapy. The pattern of decreased endurance despite a similar loss in maximal force generating capacity can be interpreted as cancer survivors fatiguing to a similar physiological endpoint, but at a faster rate than control subjects, consistent with decreased oxidative capacity. If true, decreased intramuscular oxidative capacity could arise from changes in the mitochondrial respiratory or electron chain enzymes or secondarily from the effects of muscle deconditioning.

Although limited, what little data are available provides some evidence for a relationship between muscle fatigue and CRF, thus providing further rationale for exercise as management of CRF. Certainly more targeted research is warranted in this area of inquiry.

Mitochondrial Alterations: Impairment in mitochondrial function could result in defective ATP production which has been hypothesized to contribute to the decreased energy reported by those with CRF.39 Mitochondria are unique in that they have their own genome. This mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) is particularly prone to DNA damage and point mutations have been reported to be greater in muscle biopsies of cancer survivors who have been treated with whole body radiation as well as chemotherapy compared to control subjects.120 Such point mtDNA mutations could lead to mitochondrial myopathies resulting in impaired electron transport chain function and decreased muscle oxidative capacity.121 Whether or not such mi-tochondrial alterations contribute to muscle or CRF in cancer survivors is intriguing and awaits further research.

Physical Activity: Decreased physical activity or deconditioning is an important consequence of and contributor to both CRF and muscle fatigue. Separate Chapter 5 in this volume discusses physical activity in cancer survivors in more detail (see Chapter 7, 15). Briefly, in addition to increasing overall health risk independent of cancer or its treatment, decreased physical activity can initiate a positive-feedback chain of events whereby decreased physical activity could further exacerbate CRF, muscle fatigue, or depression. Evidence for this is provided by the inverse relationship between fatigue and physical activity, as quantified by accelerometers, reported in cancer survivors undergoing chemo- or radiation therapy; the lower the physical activity the greater the fatigue.122,123 Decreased physical activity may be a particularly important factor in the CRF of long-term survivors especially if such behaviors were previously acquired in response to cancer or its treatment. In the absence of mitigating factors, education and exercise could successfully reverse any CRF caused by inactivity per se.

Autonomic Cardiovascular Function: Optimal muscle endurance is dependent on adequate oxygen delivery. While the importance of anemia cannot be overstated, a potentially overlooked contributor to CRF is impaired cardiovascular autonomic function. The rationale for this hypothesis is that muscle fatigue could arise from any limitation to muscle perfusion or oxygen delivery. In addition, any impairment in autonomically mediated cerebral blood flow could result in the symptom of fatigue independently of any contribution to muscle fatigue. Fatigue is symptomatic of neu-rogenic hypotension and abnormal baroreflex-mediated orthostatic tilt tests have been implicated in the fatigue associated with the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.124,125 Baroreflex regulation has been shown to be severely impaired in cancer survivors who have received neck irradiation.115,126 Based on these findings, it could be hypothesized that CRF would be greater in those with more impaired baroreflexes. However, fatigue was not measured in these previous studies in cancer survivors,115,126 and it is not known whether or not impaired baroreflexes are associated with CRF in cancer survivors. There is also evidence that cardiovascular autonomic abnormalities, including tests of baroreflex and exercise function, may be more common than previously thought in survivors with advanced primarily breast, lung, or prostate cancer.127,128 Again, because CRF was not assessed in these previous studies the

Figure 1. A Cascade of Multiple Factors Leads to Cancer-Related Fatigue (CRF) and Decreased Quality of Life (QOL). (Modified from Morrow.32 For clarity only the factors discussed in this chapter are illustrated.)

functional significance of these abnormalities is unclear. To date autonomic cardiovascular regulation has not been adequately studied as an indication for, or mechanism of, CRF as it has in other diseases presenting with symptomatic fatigue.118,124,125

Closing Remarks: We have highlighted some of the more prominent theories regarding the origin of CRF and suggested new areas for future consideration, such as neuromuscular or cardiovascular autonomic function. We have found the conceptual model of CRF presented by Morrow39 to be useful in our own understanding of CRF and we have modified it as Figure 1. In this model, cancer and its treatment set off a cascade of events often initiated by the action of cytokine production but ultimately leading to increased CRF and decreased QOL in the cancer survivor. As this cascade progresses there is an increasingly complex and often bidirectional interplay of fatigue-causing factors. For example, muscle fatigue or depression could contribute to CRF or in turn be affected by it. It is hoped that the increasing awareness of CRF will stimulate additional research into this, until recently, significant but underappreciated aspect of cancer survivorship. Only when a more precise understanding of CRF and its mechanisms are known can more targeted interventions be employed at appropriate times.

From a more global clinical and research perspective, significant symptomatic fatigue of unknown and known origin is characteristic of many immunological, neurological, cardiovascular, or infectious diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple scleroisis, HIV infection or AIDS, fibromyalgia, or stroke. For the most part each has its own body of literature and measurement instruments. Because many of these disorders likely share common mechanisms of fatigue, interdisciplinary study across diseases, including cross-validation of fatigue surveys, must be facilitated so as to profit from already established knowledge and to aid in understanding the nature of fatigue in a particular patient population.

While CRF is a well-accepted consequence of treatment, it is now clear that a significant proportion of long-term cancer survivors are affected by this troubling symptom.9,12,14 Perhaps the most overriding priority is to develop an understanding of how mechanisms of CRF may change across time for a specific cancer type, stage, or treatment. Prospective studies will ultimately be required but cross-sectional studies with appropriate control will also greatly aid our understanding of CRF in cancer survivors.

In this way treatment could be specifically targeted whether this be through psychotherapy, pharmacology, nutritional support, biobehavioral interventions, specific exercise prescriptions, or complimentary and alternative medicine.

10 Ways To Fight Off Cancer

10 Ways To Fight Off Cancer

Learning About 10 Ways Fight Off Cancer Can Have Amazing Benefits For Your Life The Best Tips On How To Keep This Killer At Bay Discovering that you or a loved one has cancer can be utterly terrifying. All the same, once you comprehend the causes of cancer and learn how to reverse those causes, you or your loved one may have more than a fighting chance of beating out cancer.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment