An improvement in fatigue may reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. For patients with anemia, investigators say fatigue may be improved or reversed with the drug Aranesp.
Participants in the international study were anemic patients undergoing chemotherapy to treat lung cancer. They either received Aranesp at a starting dose of 2.25 micrograms or a placebo once a week for 12 weeks. Patients then completed questionnaires.
At the beginning of the study, 25 percent of patients reported high levels of anxiety while 35 percent of patients reported high levels of depression, both higher levels than are reported by the general population of lung cancer patients. Researchers found for every unit of improvement in fatigue scores on the questionnaires, there was an improvement of 0.7 points in anxiety and 0.8 points in depression.
According to previous studies, the most frequently identified symptom of psychological distress that accompanies lung cancer is fatigue. A variety of factors may contribute to the fatigue experienced by anemic patients with lung cancer, including respiratory insufficiency, hypoxemia, side effects of chemotherapy and undernutrition.