A common and disruptive symptom that is experienced during and after cancer treatment is called cancer related fatigue. Fatigue, commonly described as feeling tired, sluggish, or exhausted, affects most people during cancer treatment as a form of side effect.
Causes of Cancer Related Fatigue
Many factors may cause cancer related fatigue. 80% to 100% of cancer patients report having fatigue. The fatigue felt in cancer is different from the fatigue of daily life. Cancer related fatigue symptoms are different from the tiredness before befriending the problem.
Factors that contribute to your cancer fatigue may be entirely different from somebody else’s. Some people face cancer fatigue during cancer treatment, and some face the same after cancer treatment.
Possible cancer related fatigue causing factors however include:
- Type of cancer
Different types of cancer can cause body changes, which can lead to fatigue. Some cancers release proteins called cytokines, which are believed to cause fatigue. Other types of cancer increase the need for energy in your body, weaken your muscles, cause damage to specific organs (such as liver, kidney, heart, or lungs) or alter the hormones in your body, all of which can contribute to fatigue.
Cancer related Fatigue: Treatment of Cancer
The main cause of cancer related fatigue is the treatment of cancer itself. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy can have side effects like fatigue. You can feel fatigued when, in addition to the targeted cancer cells, chemotherapy, or radiation often kills healthy cells.
Cancer related fatigue can happen as your body attempts to repair the damage to healthy cells and tissues. Some side effects of treatment — like anemia, nausea, vomiting, pain, insomnia, and mood changes — may also cause fatigue.
Chemotherapy can cause fatigue, especially the high dose regimens that are given with curative intent since that kind of treatment is designed to cross the limit to kill the tumor cells.
Patients can develop anemia if too many healthy red blood cells are killed by chemotherapy. They may also experience anemia if cancer has spread to their bone marrow and interferes with the production of blood cells, or causes blood loss.
Cancer patients may get less active, eat less, sleep less, and become discouraged if they experience chronic pain, all of which may contribute to their fatigue.
- Weak diets
Cancer patients need the resources for a healthy diet for their cancer treatments to work efficiently. Their body’s ability to process nutrients may change. Such adjustments may result in poor nutrition, leading to tiredness and fatigue.
- Hormonal Changes
There may be many hormonal changes during cancer treatment. Hormonal therapies are a common method for treating certain cancers, and such medications can lead to fatigue. There may also be hormonal changes as side effects of procedures such as surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy.
Not everyone suffering from cancer gets fatigued. And if you do, the level of cancer tiredness that you experience may vary— you may feel a slight lack of energy, or you may feel completely wiped out. Cancer fatigue may occur episodically and last only a short time, or it may last for several months after the cancer treatment is complete.
Cancer Related Fatigue Treatment
Some cancer related fatigue is expected during cancer treatment. But tell your doctor if you find that cancer tiredness is persistent, lasting weeks, and interferes with your ability to perform your daily tasks.
Consult your doctor if you experience:
- Loss of balance
- Severe shortness of breath
Cancer Related Fatigue Coping Strategies
- Cancer Related Fatigue Treatment – Medical Care
There may be medicines available to treat the underlying cause of your fatigue. For example, blood transfusions can help if your fatigue is the result of anemia. If you’re depressed, your doctor may suggest medicines that can help reduce depression, increase appetite, and enhance your sense of well being.
Improving your sleeping habits will help to relieve fatigue. Adequate pain management can go a long way in minimizing fatigue, but certain pain medications can make fatigue worse, so you should consult with your doctor to achieve the right balance.
- Fatigue Care – Self Tips
Coping with fatigue can require things that you can do alone.
- Set aside time to relax in your day. Take short naps — no longer than one hour — throughout the day, rather than a long period of rest.
- Keep track of the moments when you feel the best of yourself, and schedule your essential tasks during those times.
- Drinking plenty of water and eating healthy will help preserve your energy reserves. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. If nausea and vomiting make eating difficult, talk with your doctor about the side effects.
- Exercise throughout the week will help you to maintain your energy level. Exercise plays a very positive role during cancer treatment. Perform regular exercise when you begin cancer treatment. You will get into the exercise routine, and it may even help you to avoid fatigue during cancer treatment.
Don’t believe that the fatigue that you feel is just part of the cancer treatment. Fatigue can sometimes be a risk factor for the production of chronic after cancer treatment. Many cancer survivors have constant exhaustion years after the diagnosis of cancer. If fatigue impacts your ability to spend your day, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Experiencing fatigue, when you have cancer, is a common symptom, there are steps you can take to that or cope with your condition. When you feel tired, talk to your doctor about the factors that could cause your fatigue and what you can do to strengthen them.