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Coping With Fatigue From Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy fatigueFatigue—feeling tired and lacking energy—is a common symptom reported by cancer patients. The exact cause is not always known. It can be due to your disease, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, low blood counts, lack of sleep, pain, stress, and poor appetite, along with many other factors.

Fatigue from chemotherapy feels different from fatigue of everyday life. Fatigue caused by chemotherapy can appear suddenly. Patients with cancer have described it as a total lack of energy and have used words such as worn out, drained, and wiped out to describe their fatigue. Rest does not always relieve it. Not everyone feels the same kind of fatigue. It can last days, weeks, or even months.

Tips for Coping

Here are some tips on coping with fatigue:

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

National Cancer Institute
http://www.cancer.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Fatigue. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/dealingwithsymptomsathome/caring-for-the-patient-with-cancer-at-home-fatigue. Updated June 8, 2015. Accessed July 19, 2016.

Fatigue (feeling weak and very tired). National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/fatigue.pdf. Updated February 2012. Accessed July 19, 2016.

Fatigue & cancer fatigue. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Cancer_Overview/hic_Cancer-Related_Fatigue. Updated December 10, 2014. Accessed July 19, 2016.

2/4/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Molassiotis A, Bardy J, Finnegan-John J, et al. Acupuncture for cancer-related fatigue in patients with breast cancer: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2012;30(36):4470-4476.

Last reviewed July 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 7/19/2016