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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Age Differences in the Occurrence Rates for and Severity Ratings for Fatigue, Energy, and Sleep Disturbance in Oncology Patients Receiving Chemotherapy

  • Author(s): Bischel, Lindsey
  • Advisor(s): Miaskowski, Christine
  • et al.

The number of older adults with cancer is growing at an exponential rate. Given the limited amount of research and the inconsistent findings regarding age differences in common physical symptoms associated with cancer and its treatments, the purposes of this study, in a sample of oncology outpatients receiving chemotherapy (CTX, n = 940), were to evaluate for age differences (i.e., < 65 years old versus > 65 years old) in demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as in occurrence rates for and severity ratings of fatigue, energy, and sleep disturbance. Patients completed self-report questionnaires prior to their next dose of CTX. Overall, our findings suggest that compared to younger patients, older adults experience a lower or similar symptom burden. However, it should be noted that both age groups experienced high occurrence rates and moderate to severe levels of all three symptoms. Therefore, clinicians need to assess all oncology patients receiving CTX for these three symptoms. Future research needs to determine the reasons for these age-related differences as well as for differences among the older age groups.

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