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Treating Cancer-Related Fatigue Without Drugs

Talk or knead it out, chill or work out: All can help to reduce fatigue

Whether it's talk or massage therapy, relaxation, yoga, aerobic training, or drugs, patients try many interventions to cope with cancer-related fatigue. A recent meta-analysis compared hundreds of studies to find the best nonpharmaceutical means to manage this common and challenging symptom.

Researchers compared 245 studies to evaluate which nonpharmaceutical interventions were most effective in reducing cancer-related fatigue. Relaxation therapy was effective during cancer treatment, but not as effective after treatment. Yoga was effective both during and after treatment, as were aerobic, resistance and combined aerobic-resistance training. The authors, who published their findings in British Journal of Sports Medicine, noted that 25-50% of oncologists speak with their patients about beginning exercise therapy during and after cancer treatment, but hope their review will help increase this number. Also, because several exercise or nonpharmaceutical interventions can reduce cancer-related fatigue, the authors believe allowing patients to choose from a list of interventions may help improve adherence.

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