Approximately two million breast cancer survivors have been found to be alive in America today. Screening and treatment advances have helped in the longer management of the disease.
However it has been estimated that about a third of these long-term survivors do suffer from debilitating fatigue making normal activities of life difficult to manage.
Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles found that not all survivors suffer from fatigue. It was found that the blood of fatigued survivors contained an abnormally high level of proteins indicating that their immune inflammatory response was still working at full-tilt. Non-fatigued survivors did not have high levels of this protein.
According to Dr. Michael Irwin of UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and lead author of the research 'It appears there is an activation of the immune system that's present and that probably occurs in the midst of treatment but in the women that have persistent fatigue, that immune activation, we hypothesize, that those women don't turn off their immune system.'
The results of the study have been published in the May 1st issue of Clinical Cancer Research. Their study revealed that persistent fatigue was unrelated to the type of treatment received for the breast cancer nor was it related to the stage of her disease at diagnosis.
Instead the hypothesis of the researchers seemed to indicate that the brain and immune system get stuck in an endless feedback loop and immune proteins communicated with brain to keep the production of immune proteins turned on.
Dr. Irwin opined that the abnormally high level of anti-inflammatory proteins could easily be a "marker" to identify women at greater risk of developing persistent fatigue and thereby a need for additional support.
The researchers plan to investigate whether that endless feedback loop could be broken through mind-body disciplines and exercise that are safe and widely used.