Screening, Assessment, and Management of Fatigue in Adult Survivors of Cancer: An American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline Adaptation

Published online before print April 14, 2014, DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2013.53.4495
Julienne E. Bower, Kate Bak, Ann Berger, William Breitbart, Carmelita P. Escalante, Patricia A. Ganz, Hester Hill Schnipper, Christina Lacchetti, Jennifer A. Ligibel, Gary H. Lyman, Mohammed S. Ogaily, William F. Pirl, and Paul B. Jacobsen

Purpose: This guideline presents screening, assessment, and treatment approaches for the management of adult cancer survivors who are experiencing symptoms of fatigue after completion of primary treatment.

Methods: A systematic search of clinical practice guideline databases, guideline developer Web sites, and published health literature identified the pan-Canadian guideline on screening, assessment, and care of cancer-related fatigue in adults with cancer, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines In Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for Cancer-Related Fatigue and the NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship. These three guidelines were appraised and selected for adaptation.

Results: It is recommended that all patients with cancer be evaluated for the presence of fatigue after completion of primary treatment and be offered specific information and strategies for fatigue management. For those who report moderate to severe fatigue, comprehensive assessment should be conducted, and medical and treatable contributing factors should be addressed. In terms of treatment strategies, evidence indicates that physical activity interventions, psychosocial interventions, and mind-body interventions may reduce cancer-related fatigue in post-treatment patients. There is limited evidence for use of psychostimulants in the management of fatigue in patients who are disease free after active treatment.

Conclusion: Fatigue is prevalent in cancer survivors and often causes significant disruption in functioning and quality of life. Regular screening, assessment, and education and appropriate treatment of fatigue are important in managing this distressing symptom. Given the multiple factors contributing to post-treatment fatigue, interventions should be tailored to each patient’s specific needs. In particular, a number of nonpharmacologic treatment approaches have demonstrated efficacy in cancer survivors.

Disclaimer: The clinical practice guidelines and other guidance published herein are provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. ("ASCO") to assist practitioners in clinical decision making. The information therein should not be relied upon as being complete or accurate, nor should it be considered as inclusive of all proper treatments or methods of care or as a statement of the standard of care. With the rapid development of scientific knowledge, new evidence may emerge between the time information is developed and when it is published or read. The information is not continually updated and may not reflect the most recent evidence. The information addresses only the topics specifically identified therein and is not applicable to other interventions, diseases, or stages of diseases. This information does not mandate any particular course of medical care. Further, the information is not intended to substitute for the independent professional judgment of the treating physician, as the information does not account for individual variation among patients. Recommendations reflect high, moderate or low confidence that the recommendation reflects the net effect of a given course of action. The use of words like "must," "must not," "should," and "should not" indicate that a course of action is recommended or not recommended for either most or many patients, but there is latitude for the treating physician to select other courses of action in individual cases. In all cases, the selected course of action should be considered by the treating physician in the context of treating the individual patient. Use of the information is voluntary. ASCO provides this information on an "as is" basis, and makes no warranty, express or implied, regarding the information. ASCO specifically disclaims any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular use or purpose. ASCO assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of this information or for any errors or omissions.

Last updated 04/14/2014