Managing Cancer-Related Fatigue in Women With Gynecologic Cancers

June 28, 2019
Hanneke Poort, PhD

Hanneke Poort, PhD, discusses the burden of cancer-related fatigue in women with gynecologic cancers; she also highlights a new intervention technique that is being used at Dana-Farber for these patients.

Hanneke Poort, PhD, a psychologist and post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses the burden of cancer-related fatigue in women with gynecologic cancers; she also highlights a new intervention technique that is being used at Dana-Farber for these patients.

One of the most debilitating and common symptoms of cancer is fatigue, and only a few studies have looked into this symptom and whether or not it can resolve itself without intervention. Poort conducted an analysis to investigate fatigue in women with gynecologic cancers.

Data from 312 women with ovarian or endometrial cancers were collected; 49% of these patients reported clinically significant fatigue following their initial surgical treatment and prior to the start of any additional therapy. Findings showed that the fatigue did not resolve after 12 months of follow-up.

Depressive symptoms are a contributing factor to fatigue in patients, which can be modified with psychological interventions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, is an intervention that can help in reducing depressive symptoms and overall fatigue in these patients; however, there has been a lack of studies looking at the use of CBT specifically in patients with gynecologic cancers. Dana-Farber has adapted CBT intervention to see if the quality of life can be improved for patients with advanced ovarian cancer receiving PARP inhibitors.