Fatigue Levels in Children Undergoing Radiotherapy for Solid Tumours: A Longitudinal Study in a Large Tertiary Hospital in Australia

J. Thambiraj, G. Hartel, M. Kirshbaum, N. Waheed, P. Valery

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aims: Fatigue is a symptom commonly found in cancer patients. Measurement of fatigue is essential to understand the magnitude of the condition and to intervene accordingly. We measured fatigue levels in children with cancer receiving one course of radiotherapy treatment (RT) lasting 6 weeks to examine the trajectory of fatigue levels during and 2 weeks post treatment, and the influence of RT dose and clinical factors on fatigue scores.

Methods: A longitudinal study was conducted in Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre during Oct-2016 and Mar-2019. Among 149 children who were referred for RT, 124 were not eligible, and 25 children were eligible to take part, and were interviewed. The Childhood Fatigue Scale(CFS) was used once every week and 2 weeks post treatment.

Results: The average age of participants was 10.4 years (SD=2.12), and 60% were males. The most common diagnosis was Craniopharyngioma (20%), followed by Glioblastoma (16%) and Medulloblastoma (16%).The most common treatment sites were brain (56%). Most patients (84%) had radiotherapy and surgery. Total fatigue score, and subscales energy, function, and mood significantly increased over the course of RT treatment (p=0.009, p=0160, and p=0.008, respectively) Girls had higher fatigue scores for energy than boys (mean=13.61 (SD=5.66) for girls vs. mean=9.38 (SD=4.15) for boys, p=0.041). The relationship between RT dose and fatigue score appeared to be positive and somewhat linear, but the correlation was not statistically significant (r (23) =0.176, p=0.399). Fatigue scores did not significantly vary by age, cancer type, weight change, and medication use.

Conclusions: Our findings show that the level of fatigue over RT increased, girls experiencing higher fatigue levels than boys. However, this finding was not statistically significant in the current study and it is recommended to increase the number of participants to see if this can be seen with a larger number of participants.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28742
Pages (from-to)579
Number of pages1
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue numberS4
Early online date13 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes
Event52nd Congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology - Ottawa, Canada
Duration: 14 Oct 202017 Oct 2020


  • Pediatric oncology
  • Radiotherapy
  • Fatigue
  • Longitudinal studies


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