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Reducing fatigue in women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer

About four-in-ten of the 1,700 women in Wales who undergo radiotherapy for curable breast cancer every year experience extreme tiredness.

Patients who experience cancer-related fatigue describe great difficulty in doing their usual activities and distressing changes in how they think and feel. As fatigue at the end of radiotherapy predicts reduced quality of life, it is vital that the symptom is managed effectively.

Research shows that psychological and educational support is effective at reducing cancer-related fatigue. The patient can use this support to motivate targeted behaviours that are useful for minimising fatigue. What remains unclear is the best way to deliver this support, the active ingredients of interventions aimed at changing behaviour and an understanding of why they only work for some.


Our project aims to test an existing behaviour change intervention that has been adapted to help women receiving radiotherapy for breast cancer self-manage their fatigue. One group of about 20 women at Velindre Cancer Centre, Cardiff will receive the intervention and a second group of ten will just receive education about cancer-related fatigue.

The purpose is to undertake a trial run of the study, to clarify the factors that are currently unclear, so that the design of a larger main trial can be fine-tuned for success.

The aim is to:

  • evaluate if the trial is feasible and acceptable to implement in the radiotherapy pathway
  • explore participant’s experiences of the intervention to better understand variation in compliance with and response to the intervention.


This project is funded by Tenovus Cancer Care.

Lead researcher

Dr Nick Courtier

Dr Nick Courtier

Senior Lecturer: Radiotherapy

+44 (0)29 206 87566

Research theme

Nurse and patient holding hands

Optimising well-being and the management of long-term conditions

We are working to optimise well-being in health and illness of people affected by long-term and life limiting conditions in Wales and beyond.