Cancer Related Fatigue

One of the most common symptoms of cancer and cancer related treatment is fatigue. Fatigue is defined as the physical feelings of tiredness, weakness and lack of energy. It is important to note that cancer-related fatigue is different from fatigue that non cancer patients experience in the sense that it is not remedied by sleep or rest. Although cancer-related fatigue can affect you physically, it can also have a huge impact on you mentally and emotionally. Activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping can be hard to achieve.  Activities such as going out with friends or to different social events can seem daunting and extra tiring. The good news is there are steps you can take to help boost your energy and manage this symptom.
  • Get plenty of rest but do not stay in bed or sit more than you have to. Too much rest can lower your energy level.
  • Although this may sound counter-intuitive, physical activity will increase your energy level. Start with doing light activities such as walking for ten minutes and increase the amount and/or intensity each day.
  • Balance your day with periods of rest and activity. For example, have a short nap after going out with friends or grocery shopping.
  • Keep naps short (no more than 40 minutes) and make sure you get up and walk around or engage in an activity after.
  • Make sure you pick activities that you enjoy. This way you will be more motivated and more likely to do them.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Family or friends may be able to get groceries, clean and cook when you are feeling too tired.
  • Eat a well-balanced healthy diet. You can do this by following the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide. You can also get more specific information related to nutrition and prostate cancer by accessing the Nutrition Guide for Men with Prostate Cancer.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and feeling dizzy.
  • Make sure you talk to your doctor if you are feeling fatigue. He may recommend medications to boost your energy or suggest different treatment options.
Just remember not every cancer patient will experience fatigue in the same way. Some may feel exhausted, while others feel a little tired. Also, the duration will vary between people depending on the disease stage, treatment and how they manage the symptom. Talk to your doctor and follow some of the tips above to manage fatigue and increase your energy levels.


Key References

Hofman, M., Ryan, J.L., Figueroa-Moseley, C.D., Jean-Pierre, P., & Morrow, G.R. (2007). Cancer-related fatigue; The scale of the problem. The Oncologist, 12, I4-10.
 
UCLA Urology. Managing fatigue or tiredness, retrieved from http://urology.ucla.edu/workfiles/IMPACT/Fatigue.pdf on October 28, 2016


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