For patients, caregivers and family members of the CTCA Community
Cancer-Related Fatigue

Everyone knows what it is like to feel tired. You have probably missed an occasional night of sleep or gone through a stretch of early waking—but a nap or a good night’s sleep can help you bounce right back.

Cancer-related fatigue is different
For cancer patients, the sensation of whole-body tiredness and lack of energy can reach a whole new level, including:
  • Weakness
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Depression
  • Shortness of breath

And sleep by itself does not help.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer-related fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer and cancer treatment, affecting more than 70 percent of cancer patients.

Fatigue varies widely from one patient to another, but it is most often caused by a combination of factors—your overall health, your specific diagnosis and your treatments. Chronic pain, medications and nutritional deficiencies may also contribute.

Any time you experience fatigue—during or after cancer treatment—you should speak to your doctor. Your care team can suggest integrative therapies to fight fatigue and keep you strong.

Fighting fatigue
Learn the signs of fatigue and listen to your body when it needs to rest. In addition to the therapies your care team suggests, the following strategies can also make a difference:
  • Prioritize your activities. Devote your energy to activities that matter the most.
  • Set aside time to rest. Schedule short, frequent naps throughout the day.
  • Eat right. Fuel your body with nutritious foods that replenish your energy.
  • Stay as active as you can. Regular, light exercise can increase your energy and strength—for example, a brief walk three times a week.
  • Adjust your work schedule. Discuss your treatment schedule with your supervisor and if possible, adjust your workload to take advantage of peak energy times.
  • Find support from others who understand cancer-related fatigue. Your Cancer Fighters® team can put you in touch with members who have been through it themselves.
You may be interested in these resources:

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