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Co-occurring Fatigue and Lymphatic Pain Incrementally Aggravate Their Negative Effects on Activities of Daily Living, Emotional Distress, and Overall Health of Breast Cancer Patients.



Fatigue and lymphatic pain are the most common and debilitating long-term adverse effects of breast cancer treatment. Fatigue and pain independently have negative effects on quality of life, physical functions, and cancer recurrence-free survival. The interactions between fatigue and pain may aggravate their negative effects.


Examine the effects of co-occurring fatigue and lymphatic pain on activities of daily living (ADLs), emotional distress, and overall health of breast cancer patients.


A cross-sectional and observational design was used to enroll 354 breast cancer patients. Valid and reliable instruments were used to assess fatigue, lymphatic pain, ADLs, emotional distress, and overall health. Descriptive statistics and multivariable regression models were used for data analysis.


After controlling for demographic and clinical factors, patients with co-occurring fatigue and lymphatic pain had higher odds of having impaired ADLs (OR = 24.43, CI = [5.44-109.67], P < .001) and emotional distress (OR = 26.52, CI = [9.64-72.90], P < .001) compared to patients with only fatigue and only lymphatic pain. Patients with co-occurring fatigue and lymphatic pain had 179% increase in impaired ADL scores (B = 8.06, CI = [5.54-10.59]) and 211% increase in emotional distress scores (B = 9.17, CI = [5.52-12.83]) compared to those without co-occurring fatigue and lymphatic pain. Patients with co-occurring fatigue and lymphatic pain had a 34% decrease (B = -26.29, CI = [-31.90 to -20.69]) and patients with only fatigue had a 33% decrease in overall health scores (B = -25.74, 95% CI = [-34.14 to -17.33]), indicating poor overall health.


Fatigue and lymphatic pain affected 66.4% of breast cancer patients. Findings from this study suggest that co-occurring fatigue and lymphatic pain have negative effects on breast cancer patients' ADLs, emotional distress, and overall health. The synergistic interactions between fatigue and lymphatic pain incrementally aggravated their negative effects on ADLs and emotional distress. Findings of the study highlight the need to evaluate the underlying mechanisms for co-occurring fatigue and lymphatic pain and develop interventions that target both fatigue and lymphatic pain to improve breast cancer patients' the quality of life.

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