Can You Help Me Feel Less Exhausted All the Time?
+ Author Affiliations
- Erasmus MC–Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
- Corresponding author: C.C.D. van der Rijt, MD, PhD, Department of Medical Oncology, Erasmus MC–Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center, PO Box 5201, 3008 AE Rotterdam, the Netherlands; e-mail: email@example.com.
A 64-year-old woman with metastatic rectal cancer is admitted to the acute palliative care unit of our cancer center because of debilitating fatigue.
She had been diagnosed with metastatic disease in 2009, when liver metastases were found 1 year after the primary treatment of her rectal cancer with preoperative radiotherapy and low anterior resection.
Since then, she had been treated with resection of liver metastases in 2009 and 2010, palliative combination chemotherapy (oxaliplatin plus capecitabine) after the diagnosis of new liver and lung metastases in 2010, irinotecan in 2011, and then cetuximab until progression.
She declined participation in a phase I clinical trial because she was afraid of experiencing adverse effects; she felt relatively well at the time.
She had functioned without hindering symptoms until 2 weeks before admission. Her condition had deteriorated markedly since then.
At admission, she is bedridden because of progressive fatigue. Furthermore, she complains of dyspnea and nausea and vomits approximately twice per day. She also suffers from pain in the upper abdomen, especially when rising from the bed. She is no longer able to care for her 84-year-old husband or her 40-year-old mentally disabled son, who lives with them. She is aware of her poor prognosis but is not able to share her sorrows with her family.