Lead researcher Dr Julie Bower, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles has found that patients who experience fatigue during radiotherapy for might be reacting to activation of the proinflammatory cytokine network, a known inflammatory pathway.
For the study, the researchers recruited patients with breast cancer and 20 patients with prostate cancer, all early stage and determined the level of proinflammatory markers.
They found a strong link between radiotherapy treatment and fatigue.
The researchers discovered that increases in serum markers of cytokine activity, specifically IL-1 receptor antagonist and C-reactive protein, were also linked with fatigue.
"This study suggests that exposure to radiation is releasing these inflammatory cytokines and that may be contributing to fatigue," said Bower.
Dr Stephen Hahn, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Centre at the University of Pennsylvania, said this study is an important step forward in understanding the biological basis for fatigue.
"Fatigue related to radiotherapy is very common but we do not have any good idea about why it occurs. This suggests one possible mechanism and suggests an avenue for treatment," he added.
The study appears in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. (ANI)