Cancer fatigue is a feeling of extreme weakness and exhaustion. It occurs during cancer treatment. At times, it can make it hard to do basic tasks. The fatigue can last for weeks or even years.
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Cancer and the side effects of treatment cause the fatigue. Fatigue can be made worse by the following:
These are common side effects of cancer treatment. Treatment effects on some organs like kidney, liver, or heart can also increase fatigue.
Factors that may increase your chances of cancer fatigue:
Cancer fatigue may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may ask you some questions. You may also be given a questionnaire. This will help to make a diagnosis.
Treatment will depend on your specific needs. Work with your care team to find what works best for you. Related problems like anemia will need to be treated.
Other options include medicine, therapy, and home care.
Medicine that may help to relieve fatigue include:
Your mental health can play a role. Stress and negative thought patterns can make fatigue worse. Changes to your life can also cause stress and negative thoughts.
Therapy may help you find better ways to cope. There are different options such as one on one therapy or group sessions.
Changes to your daily habits may also help. Options that may help include:
It is not always possible to prevent cancer fatigue. Your care team will work to help you manage treatment and side effects.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Provincial Health Services Authority
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Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP Last Updated: 8/8/2018