Is Cancer-Related Fatigue Related to Levels of Physical Activity and Body Weights in HNC Survivors?

Friday, 28 July 2017

Yuan-Yuan Fang, MS
Yeur-Hur Lai, PhD
School of Nursing, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan


In cancer survivors, fatigue frequently attacks and impact patients’ daily life, but is usually underreported. Physical activity can decelerate the disease progress and decreases the impact of fatigue, but in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients there were few literatures and without combining the issue of body weight loss or obesity after treatment. The purposes of this study were to explore the relationship between physical activity, body weight status, and cancer-related fatigue.


This was a cross-sectional study design research and 144 HNC patients were recruited in outpatients center in medical center in Northern Taiwan after complete the treatment. Using Fatigue Symptom Inventory (FSI) and Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (GLTEQ) to be the interments and assessing by the senior nurses after agree to participant in the study.


Most patients had good KPS (83.8±7.76) and were average completed the treatment 17.2 (± 13.8) months, but only 20.8% were in met the public health exercise recommendation. Even after the treatment, nearly 80% of patients still suffer from fatigue, and first three fatigue daily interference were “general level of activity” (1.6 ± 2.1), “normal work activity” (1.4 ± 2.0), and “mood” (1.3 ± 2.1). The patients met exercise recommendation (in activity group) with normal BMI (18 to 25) were had significant lower fatigue intensity (P = .01) and fatigue interferences (P= .002) than sedentary. The trend showed that the sedentary patients in normal weight or overweight had worst fatigue intensity, inference, and duration. With BMI<25, the patients had worst fatigue intensity, inference and duration than other participants.


Our study showed that the sedentary patients had worse fatigue than the patients with exercise, and the patients with BMI<18 may have worst fatigue than the other participants. We recommend the health care givers encourage the patients have regular exercise behavior after the treatment and long-term follow up their body weight to give specific practical nutritional intervention.