Fatigue is a very common problem for people with cancer.
As many as nine out of ten people with cancer (90%) may feel fatigued at some time. The causes of cancer-related fatigue (CRF) are not really understood. It may be due to the cancer itself or the symptoms caused by the cancer. It can also be a side effect of treatment.
Fatigue can be especially difficult to deal with when you’re already trying to cope with cancer. You may feel very tired or exhausted all or most of the time. This can be frustrating and feel overwhelming at times. Many people find their fatigue is distressing and has as much impact as the other side effects of cancer treatment.
CRF is different from the tiredness and fatigue that someone without cancer may get. People with cancer may get tired much more quickly after less activity. When healthy people get fatigued, it’s usually relieved by rest and sleep, whereas CRF isn’t. The fatigue usually gets better after treatment finishes, but it may continue for many months, or sometimes years.
It‘s important to tell your doctors and nurses about your fatigue and how it makes you feel, without playing it down. There are ways they may be able to help. For example, treating the causes of fatigue, such as anaemia or sleeplessness, can help.
There are also things you can do for yourself that may help you cope. For example, pacing yourself during the day can be very effective. Research tells us that one of the best things you can do to help manage your fatigue is to stay active and exercise in a way that feels positive to you.