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Level of Fatigue in Women Receiving Dose-Dense Versus Standard Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer: A Pilot Study

Wendy Sura
Susan O. Murphy
Irene Gonzales
ONF 2006, 33(5), 1015-1021 DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.1015-1021

Purpose/Objectives: To determine whether women receiving dosedense chemotherapy for breast cancer experience different levels of fatigue than women receiving standard chemotherapy regimens for the disease.

Design: Quasi-experimental pilot study.

Setting: Private physicians' offices in California.

Sample: 15 women with stage I, II, or III breast cancer receiving dose-dense or standard chemotherapy. The average female participant was 48 years old (X = 48.3), was married (80%), and had a college degree (73%).

Methods: The revised Piper Fatigue Scale was completed by patients at three different times: pretreatment, three days after their cycle 1 chemotherapy dose, and three days after their cycle 2 chemotherapy dose. Patients returned completed surveys by mail.

Main Research Variables: Fatigue levels associated with chemotherapy.

Findings: Pretreatment total fatigue scores were not significantly different in the dose-dense and standard chemotherapy groups. Total fatigue scores were significantly higher in the dose-dense group at the cycle 1 and 2 time points. Fatigue scores were significantly higher in women who had undergone a mastectomy, were working, were HER2 positive, and had a tumor size larger than 2 cm.

Conclusions: Dose-dense chemotherapy resulted in significantly greater fatigue.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses should educate women receiving dose-dense chemotherapy as part of informed consent and assist them in preparing and planning for fatigue. Information about which patients are more likely to experience significant fatigue allows nurses to judge the frequency with which they need to assess and manage fatigue to improve patient outcomes.

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