Pronounced: CAN-sir Fah-TEEG
Cancer fatigue is a feeling of extreme weakness and exhaustion during cancer treatment. At times, it may be a struggle to complete daily tasks. Fatigue can persist for weeks or even years.
Chemotherapy Affects the Whole Body
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Cancer and the side effects of treatment cause this condition. If your body is already weakened by cancer when treatment begins, then it is even more difficult to cope with the side effects.
Factors that may increase your chance of cancer fatigue include:
Cancer fatigue may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be asked:
Your doctor may also use a questionnaire to assess your fatigue.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may include:
Your doctor may advise:
Your doctor may advise that you participate in therapy. Talk with your therapist about whether cognitive behavioral therapy is right for you.
Your doctor may recommend that you try these approaches:
Consider talking with a therapist or joining a support group to help you better cope with your diagnosis and treament.
Cancer fatigue is one of the most common side effects of cancer. Because there are so many causes of cancer fatigue, there may not be a way to prevent it, but it can be managed. Talk to your doctor. Coordinate with your family and friends to help you with tasks at home until you feel better.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Anemia of chronic disease. Iron Disorders Institute website. Available at: http://www.irondisorders.org/anemia-of-chronic-disease. Accessed November 28, 2014.
Fatigue and cancer. International Cancer Council website. Available at: http://www.iccnetwork.org/cancerfacts/FatigueFactSheetJan2011RevPost.pdf. Accessed November 28, 2014.
Feeling tired vs. cancer-related fatigue. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/fatigue/feeling-tired-vs-cancer-related-fatigue. Updated October 22, 2014. Accessed November 28, 2014.
Lower EE, Fleishman S, et al. Efficacy of dexmethylphenidate for the treatment of fatigue after cancer chemotherapy: a randomized clinical trial. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009;38(5):650-662.
Minton O, Richardson A, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the pharmacological treatment of cancer-related fatigue. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100(16):1155-1166.
Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. 28th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005; 298.
What to do when you feel weak or tired. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/radiation-side-effects/fatigue.pdf.. Updated April 2010. Accessed November 28, 2014.
10/1/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Patterson E, Wan YW, et al. Nonpharmacological nursing interventions for the management of patient fatigue: a literature review. J Clin Nurs. 2013;22(19-20): 2668-2678.
11/4/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Yennurajalingam S, Frisbee dt al. Reduction of cancer-related fatigue with dexamethasone: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in patients with advanced cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2013;31(25):3076-3082.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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