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Fatigue

Fatigue is the most common symptom experienced by cancer patients. Fatigue is treatable; however, most patients do not report symptoms to their doctor in the belief that it may not be "important." Cancer-related fatigue can have a serious impact on quality of life, as well as physical symptoms.

Just having cancer can cause fatigue. Other causes include:

  • Aggressive surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments
  • Chemotherapy-induced anemia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Emotional distress
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: uncontrolled diabetes, thyroid problems, heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis

Coping with Fatigue

Exercise regularly. A 20-minute walk can help you relax, but don’t exercise in the evening.

Limit naps if possible. If you must nap, keep it under 30 minutes, and do something active right after waking.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and nicotine in the evening.

Turn off the TV one hour before bedtime. Listen to quiet music or take a warm bath instead.

Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends.

Do not read, watch TV or work in the bedroom.

If you haven’t fallen asleep in 15 minutes, go to another room. Avoid mental stimulation and return to bed when you feel sleepy. If you still can’t fall asleep, get up again and repeat these steps as necessary.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center