Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness or exhaustion. It is a very common problem for people with cancer.
As many as 9 out of 10 people with cancer (90%) may feel fatigued at some time. This is called cancer-related fatigue or CRF. The causes of CRF are not fully understood. It may be caused by the cancer itself or its symptoms. It can also be a side effect of treatment.
Fatigue can be especially difficult to deal with when you are already trying to cope with cancer. You may feel very tired or exhausted all or most of the time.
CRF is different from the tiredness that someone without cancer may get. People with cancer may get tired more quickly after less activity. Their fatigue may not be helped by rest or sleep.
For most people, fatigue gets better after treatment finishes. But for some it may continue for months or sometimes years. Everyone is different and there is no way to know how long fatigue may last for each person.
It is important to tell your doctors and nurses about your fatigue and how it makes you feel. Be honest and don’t say you feel fine if you do not. There may be things they can do to help. For example, it can help to treat the causes of fatigue, such as anaemia or sleeplessness.
There are also things you can do for yourself that may help you cope. For example, it can help to find ways to pace yourself through the day. Trying to stay physically active can also help. We have more information on living with fatigue and how you can best manage it.