Associations between cancer-related distress and fatigue in childhood cancer survivors

Deveny Vanrusselt, Charlotte Sleurs, Sofie Prikken, Koen Raeymaekers, Sabine Verschueren, Anne Uyttebroeck, Jurgen Lemiere, Koen Luyckx

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractScientificpeer-review


Background and Aims:
A chronic feeling of fatigue occurs in up to 85% of children and adolescents after the completion of their cancer treatment. Chronic fatigue has a detrimental effect on quality of life, reintegration in daily life activities and psychosocial functioning of the patient. Therefore, it is important to define individual risk profiles for chronic fatigue.

Childhood cancer survivors who were treated in the University Hospital of Leuven, completed two annual questionnaires on fear of recurrence, traumatic experience, resilience and fatigue. The associations between cancer-related distress (fear of recurrence and traumatic experience) and fatigue levels were examined by performing two cross-lagged panel analyses. Resilience was included as potential moderator. These models included all within-time associations, stability paths, and cross-lagged paths. Gender and time since diagnosis were included as covariates.

In total, 110 patients participated in this study, aged 16-25 years old (average time since diagnosis 12.2 years; 41.8% boys; diagnosed with leukemia/lymphoma (49%), solid tumor (15%), brain tumor (16%) or other (20%)). Both fear of recurrence (β=0.167, p=0.042) and traumatic experience (β =0.177, p=0.035) at baseline significantly predicted higher fatigue one year later. The significant interaction effect suggested that resilience could buffer the effect of fear of recurrence on fatigue (β = 0.142, p=0.031). Stability coefficients were high for all study variables. Girls experienced more fatigue (p<0.001) and fear of recurrence (p=0.004) than boys at baseline, while boys showed more resilience (p<0.001).

Interventions that can reduce fatigue will only become efficient if we can intervene adequately and instantly at the moment, in the context, according to the needs of the patient. This study suggests that cancer-related distress can exacerbate fatigue. This information should be incorporated in therapeutic interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalPediatric Blood & Cancer
Issue numberS5
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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