Fatigue is a common side effect of cancer and cancer treatments. It is different to just being tired and can impact on your lifestyle. However, there are ways to manage it.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is feeling extremely tired, weak and lacking energy. Research has shown that most people with a cancer diagnosis will experience fatigue.
What are the symptoms of fatigue?
Cancer-related fatigue affects people in different ways and the way you feel may change over time. Some symptoms may include muscle aches and pains; having little or no energy; having problems sleeping; finding it difficult to concentrate and weakness.
What causes fatigue?
Fatigue can by caused by the cancer itself or cancer treatments. Other causes may be changes in your diet; other side effects from treatment; stress or a lack of physical activity.
How long does fatigue last?
Cancer-related fatigue is different to normal tiredness as it doesn’t always go away after sleep or rest. Fatigue can continue throughout your treatment and even for some time after it. Most people will start to feel better 6-12 months after treatment ends but some may find the fatigue continues for longer than that.
How can fatigue be managed?
Some people say that fatigue is the most difficult side effect of cancer and it can be distressing. To help manage your fatigue talk to your GP, specialist doctor or nurse about how you are feeling and how long you have been experiencing fatigue. Some ways to manage fatigue include regular exercise, setting up a bedtime routine to help you relax, eating well and avoiding smoking and alcohol.
Where can I get reliable information?
Cancer Council’s podcast “the Thing About Cancer” includes tips on managing fatigue, sleep and cancer.
Talk to your health care team as they are trained to assess your situation and help you manage fatigue. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for information and support.
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