Fatigue after breast cancer treatment: Biobehavioral predictors of fatigue trajectories

Julienne E. Bower, Joshua Wiley, Laura Petersen, Michael R. Irwin, Steve W. Cole, Patricia A. Ganz

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94 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Fatigue is a common side effect of cancer treatment, but there is considerable variability in fatigue severity and persistence among survivors. This study aimed to characterize longitudinal trajectories of fatigue after breast cancer treatment and to identify predictors of varying fatigue trajectories. Methods: Women (N = 191) from the Mind-Body Study completed assessments after primary treatment for early stage breast cancer and at regular follow-ups that occurred up to 6 years after treatment (M = 4.3 years). Growth mixture models were used to characterize fatigue trajectories, and demographic, medical, and biobehavioral risk factors were examined as predictors of trajectory group. Results: Five trajectories were identified, characterized as High, Recovery, Late, Low, and Very Low fatigue. The High and Recovery groups (40% of sample) evidenced elevated fatigue at posttreatment that declined in Recovery but persisted in the High group. In bivariate analyses, trajectory groups differed significantly on depressive symptoms, sleep disturbance, childhood adversity, body mass index, and the inflammatory marker soluble TNF receptor type II, which were higher in the High and/or Recovery groups. In multivariate models, depressive symptoms and childhood adversity distinguished High and Recovery from other groups. Rates of chemotherapy were higher in the Recovery than in the High or Late group, whereas rates of endocrine therapy were higher in the High than in the Recovery group. Conclusions: There are distinct longitudinal trajectories of fatigue after breast cancer treatment. Psychological factors are strongly associated with adverse fatigue trajectories, and together with treatment exposures may increase risk for cancer-related fatigue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1034
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Biobehavioral
  • Cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Risk factor
  • Trajectory

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