Fatigue is the most common symptom experienced by cancer patients. It is treatable, but most patients do not report symptoms to their doctor. Cancer-related fatigue can have a serious impact on quality of life, as well as physical symptoms.
The stress of dealing with your cancer diagnosis can cause fatigue. Other causes include:
- Aggressive surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments
- Chemotherapy-induced anemia
- Sleep disorders
- Emotional distress
- Pre-existing medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, thyroid problems, heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis
Coping With Fatigue
Try these simple tips to boost your energy and fight 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.
- Keep a fatigue journal to help find patterns in your fatigue and prioritize your activities.
Our Internal Medicine Center treats patients with cancer-related fatigue. Ask your MD Anderson health team for a referral to the Fatigue Clinic.