Cancer fatigue is when you feel very weak and exhausted during cancer treatment. You may struggle to complete daily tasks. Fatigue can last for weeks or even years.
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 handle the side effects.
These conditions are caused by cancer or cancer treatment and can add to fatigue:
These factors increase your chance of developing cancer fatigue:
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to cancer fatigue. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and do a physical exam. 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 options include the following:
Your doctor may prescribe:
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:
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, there may be ways to reduce it. Talk to your doctor. Also talk to your family and friends to help you cope with your condition.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute of Canada
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10/1/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
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11/4/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Yennurajalingam S, Frisbee-Hume S, et al. Reduction of cancer-related fatigue with dexamethasone: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in patients with advanced cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2013 Sep1;31(25):3076-3082.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
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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