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Side Effects of Cancer Immune Therapies: Fatigue

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Published on October 11, 2016

Dr. Luke Peppone of University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, begins by highlighting immune therapies and their potential as a novel treatment in cancer, boasting the highest survival rates and having a high level of dependency from patients. Dr. Peppone further explores the unfortunate side effects that do co-occur with these types of treatment and that research is currently in process to help abate these side effects, helping the patient maintain quality of life through treatment. He provides a brief overview on recent research focusing on omega-3 supplementation (fish oil) for fatigue, compared against omega-6 supplements (soybean oil). Fatigue is currently being tested due to the side effect being the most debilitating chronic symptom among over 95 percent of patients.

He also mentions fatigue being exacerbated by other side effects such as pain and cognitive impairment. Dr. Peppone finishes of by noting that there really is no pharmaceutical answer yet, however exercises have been found to be very effective at treating fatigue, yoga being one example. Although it is very difficult to get patients to start exercising when they are fatigued, exercise is one of the good solutions to this problem.

Recorded at the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) and International Society of Ocular Oncology (ISOO) 2016 Annual Meeting on Supportive Care in Cancer held in Adelaide, Australia.

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Transcript |

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Immune therapies are the most promising therapies. They have the highest survival rates, and the patents desperately need them. Unfortunately, they do come with side effects. But research like ours is here to help abate side effects and help the patient maintain quality of life through these treatments. Recently we looked at omega-3 supplementation for fatigue, and we compared that against omega-6 supplementation. Our omega-3 supplementation was from fish oil, and our omega-7 supplementation was from soybean oil. 

I don’t know if we fully understand why they get fatigue, but we know it’s the most debilitating symptom, the most feared symptom among patients. And we know that it does not resolve in approximately in one-third of the patients after they finish treatment  becomes chronic. So if patients receive chemotherapy, they’re virtually assured to get fatigue — over 90 percent, 95 percent. But fatigue does not exist in a vacuum. Think about it in the context of sleep when you’re unable to sleep, you’re extremely fatigued the next day and vice versa. A lot of these things are also exacerbated by things like pain and cognitive impairment when patients aren’t thinking straight due to their lack of energy, due to their lack of sleep, and all these things seem to co-occur. 

We don’t have the best options yet. There really is no pharmaceutical answer, but we have shown that exercise, things like yoga are very effective in treating fatigue. it’s difficult though to get patients to start exercising when they’re fatigued, so that is a problem. But we know that exercise is one of the good solutions.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.