Symptom burden among MPN patients is severe compared to age-matched controlled and other individuals with cancer. MPN-Related Fatigue (MRF) is among one of the most frequent and debilitating of symptoms among MPN patients and contributes greatly to the loss of quality of life. To date, little is known regarding the breadth and efficacy of strategies to reduce or palliate MRF.
A 17-item internet-based survey was hosted on the MPN Forum website during February of 2013. The survey included data on demographics, type of fatigue (chronic, sporadic, or both), strategies to reduce fatigue, and symptom burden using the MPN-SAF TSS. The MPN-SAF TSS also included a validated 1-item measure to assess worst fatigue in the last 24 hours (scored on a 0 (absent/as good as it can be) to 10 (worst-imaginable/as bad as it can be) scale).
879 MPN patients responded to the online survey. The majority of patients had been diagnosed with their MPN for more than one year (5.8% less than one year, 34.4% one to five years, 30.3% five to ten years, and 27.6% more than 10 years). Mean age of MPN diagnosis was 49.3 (range 12-84). A near equal mix was seen of chronic (35.3%), sporadic (29.9%) and both chronic and sporadic fatigue (28.8%). Average symptom burden was very severe (mean MPN-SAF TSS =31.9), with an average worst 24-hr fatigue rated as 5.9/10.
Many strategies to reduce MPN-related fatigue were mentioned via open and categorical responses (Table 1). Exercise was the most commonly mentioned fatigue reduction strategy, followed by diet and social interaction. Diet strategies included the consumption of fruits and vegetables and using foods to combat specific nutrient deficiencies (e.g., iron). Interventions to increase rest included obtaining >8 hours of sleep at night, taking frequent naps if needed, and strategically timing naps (e.g., sleeping prior to activity). Timing strategies were implemented to maximize energy levels, including scheduling activities at time periods during the day when patients felt most awake. Stress-reduction strategies included massages, meditation and yoga. Some respondents felt work was both source of energy and motivation, although others mentioned cutting back work hours or obligations in order to reduce fatigue. New activities such as gardening and enjoying the outdoors were also mentioned. Use of non-prescription supplementation, including caffeine and over-the counter energy supplementation, was common. Prescription energy stimulants included MPN-specific treatments (e.g., ruxolitinib, hydroxurea, ASA, interferon), steroids, noradrenergic stimulants (e.g., methyphenidate, modafinil), prescription vitamin supplements (e.g., vitamin B12 injections), erythropoietin analogues, and blood thinners.
Overall patients were very symptomatic of disease (previously reported MPN-SAF TSS scores 18.7 ET, 21.8 PV, and 25.3 MF) and worst 24-hr fatigue (previously reported as 4.0 ET, 4.4 PV, and 5.0 MF) than previously published MPN cohorts (JCO 2012 20;30(36):4590). Many intervention strategies are utilized to reduce MRF. Future trials investigating pharmacologic, psychosocial, and activity-related interventions to reduce MRF are needed.
Harrison:NOVARTIS: Honoraria, Membership on an entity’s Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Sanofi: Honoraria, Membership on an entity’s Board of Directors or advisory committees, Speakers Bureau; YM Bioscience: Honoraria, Membership on an entity’s Board of Directors or advisory committees; Celgene: Honoraria; Shire: Speakers Bureau; Sbio: Honoraria, Membership on an entity’s Board of Directors or advisory committees; Gilead: Honoraria, Membership on an entity’s Board of Directors or advisory committees.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.