Exercise Has A Positive Effect On Fatigue During And After Cancer Treatment
Exercise may help people with cancer feel better and have more energy during and after treatment. The effect of exercise on fatigue in people with cancer is being studied. One study reported that breast cancersurvivors who took part in enjoyable physical activity had less fatigue and pain and were better able to take part in daily activities. In clinical trials, some people with cancer reported the following benefits from exercise:
- More physical energy.
- More enjoyment with life.
- A greater sense of well-being.
Moderate activity for 3 to 5 hours a week may help cancer fatigue. You are more likely to follow an exercise plan if you choose a type of exercise that you enjoy. Your healthcare team can help you plan the best time and place for exercise and how often to exercise. You may need to start with light activity for short periods of time and build up to more exercise little by little. Studies have shown that exercise can be safely done during and after cancer treatment.
Mind and body exercises such as qigong, tai chi, and yoga may help relieve fatigue. These exercises combine activities like movement, stretching, balance, and controlled breathing with spiritual activity such as meditation.
Cognitive behavior therapy
- Stress from coping with cancer.
- Fear that the cancer may come back.
- Feeling hopeless about fatigue.
- Lack of social support.
- A pattern of sleep and activity that changes from day to day.
Other ways to manage fatigue
How Is Cancer Fatigue Managed Or Treated
The first step in treating fatigue is knowing the problem exists. Many people don’t bother to mention fatigue to their doctors because they believe it is normal. It’s vital that you discuss this and all symptoms or side effects with your healthcare provider. Then, efforts can be directed at determining the cause of the problem and prescribing appropriate treatment. Your particular cancer treatment regimen, with its known side effects, may provide clues for your doctor or health care professional. A simple blood test, for example, can determine if you are anemic.
There is no single medication available to treat fatigue. However, there are medications available that can treat some of the underlying causes.
When youre struggling, you may want to see a palliative care specialist. These experts help people with cancer manage symptoms like pain, nausea and depression.
Your provider or palliative care team may recommend these actions to ease fatigue:
Prevalence Of Cancer Related Fatigue
About 50%90% of cancer patients worldwide experience cancer-related fatigue.
The following symptoms begin after a week or so of the first radiation treatment:
- Feeling tired or lethargic throughout the day
Walking from the parking lot to your office may take longer and it may be difficult to accomplish physical tasks. Fatigue can be extremely frustrating because you aren’t quite sleepy, but you just don’t have enough energy to do much.
Fatigue does affect everyone differently. Some may experience mild fatigue, while others may suffer from severe chronic fatigue that affects their quality of life considerably. Your fatigue may increase over time as you undergo more radiation therapy treatments.
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Can Stress Management Help With Cancer Fatigue
Managing stress can play an important role in combating fatigue. Here are some ways you can manage stress:
- Adjust your expectations. For example, if you have a list of 10 things you want to accomplish today, pare it down to two and leave the rest for other days. A sense of accomplishment goes a long way to reducing stress.
- Help others to understand and support you. Family and friends can be helpful if they can “put themselves in your shoes” and understand what cancer fatigue means for you. Cancer support groups can be a source of support as well. Other people with cancer truly understand what you are going through.
- Relaxation techniques including guided meditation, deep breathing or visualization can help reduce stress and minimize cancer fatigue.
- Divert your attention. Activities that divert your attention away from fatigue can also be helpful. Activities that require little physical energy but demand attention include knitting, reading or listening to music.
If your stress feels overwhelming, talk to your healthcare provider. They are there to help.
Coping With Hair Loss
Hair loss can be upsetting. Talk to your care team if you’re finding it difficult to cope with losing your hair.
They understand how distressing it can be and can support you and discuss your options with you.
For example, you may decide you want to wear a wig. Synthetic wigs are available free of charge on the NHS for some people, but you’ll usually have to pay for a wig made from real hair.
Other options include headwear, such as a headscarf.
Read more about advice about cancer and hair loss.
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Fatigue During Cancer Radiation Therapy
Why you’re so tired after radiation therapy
Brandi Jones MSN-Ed, RN-BC is a board-certified registered nurse who owns Brandi Jones LLC, where she writes health and wellness blogs, articles, and education. She lives with her husband and springer spaniel and enjoys camping and tapping into her creativity in her downtime.
When you undergo radiation therapy to treat cancer, your healthcare provider may provide you with a list of possible side effects of treatment. Things like nausea, diarrhea, and hair loss usually catch a person’s attention first because they seem to be the worst.
However, fatigue is one of the most common side effects. A lack of energy and excessive tiredness is common for cancer patients no matter their therapy, but those undergoing radiation therapy experience fatigue more frequently. It also worsens as treatment continues.
This article reviews symptoms of fatigue, why radiation causes it, tips to manage and cope with fatigue, and when to call your healthcare provider
Fatigue Is The Most Common Side Effect Of Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, bone marrow transplantation, and immunotherapy can cause fatigue. Fatigue is also a common symptom of some types of cancer. People with cancer describe fatigue as feeling tired, weak,worn-out, heavy, slow, or that they have no energy or get-up-and-go. Fatigue in people with cancer may be called cancer fatigue, cancer-related fatigue, and cancer treatment-related fatigue.
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Talking With Your Health Care Team About Fatigue
Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:
- What is most likely causing my fatigue?
- What should I keep track of and share so we can develop a plan to help me feel better?
- What types of exercise do you recommend for me?
- How much rest should I have during the day? How much sleep should I get at night?
- What food and drinks are best for me?
- Are there treatments or medicines that could help me feel better?
How Long Does Fatigue Or Weakness Last
Fatigue that is due to cancer and its treatment can last for weeks, months, or years. It often continues after treatment ends.
- For people who have surgery for cancer with no other treatment, fatigue often decreases or goes away over time as they recover from surgery.
- For people getting chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy in cycles, fatigue often gets worse at first and may get better until the next treatment, when the pattern starts again.
- For those getting radiation therapy, fatigue usually gets worse as the treatment goes on and often lessens within a few months after treatment is complete.
- Differ from one day to the next in how bad it is and how much it bothers you
- Be overwhelming and make it hard for you to feel well
- Make it hard for you to be with your friends and family
- Make it hard for you to do things you normally do, including going to work
- Make it harder for you to follow your cancer treatment plan.
Common Chemotherapy Side Effects Plus How To Ease Them
Getting a cancer diagnosis has the potential to completely upend your world. Although starting treatment like chemotherapy can be reassuring, it can also be confusing and scary. Chemo is intended to destroy fast-growing cancer cells, but it can also have some harsh and unpleasant side effects.
can kill cancer cells, but it cant distinguish between cancer cells and normal, healthy cells, Marlon Saria, Ph.D., R.N., advanced practice nurse researcher at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. That means chemo can put your body through hell in the process of trying to save your life.
As they work, chemo drugs target fast-reproducing cells , so theyre most likely to harm the normal, healthy cells in your hair follicles, mouth, digestive tract, reproductive system, and blood-forming cells in your bone marrow, according to the American Cancer Society . They can also affect cells in other parts of your body, like your heart, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and nervous system.
Certain types of chemo drugs are more likely to cause nausea and vomiting than others, which is why doctors classify them by their emetogenic potential, meaning how likely they are to provoke these symptoms, the ACS says. Other factors play in as well, like the dose you get and how its administered .
Should I Change The Way I Eat To Combat Cancer Fatigue
Cancer fatigue may be worse if you’re not eating enough or if you are not eating the right foods. Maintaining good nutrition can help you feel better and have more energy. The following strategies can help you improve your nutritional intake.
- Basic calorie needs. A person with cancer whose weight has been stable needs about 15 calories per pound of weight each day. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds needs about 2,250 calories per day to maintain weight. You should add 500 calories per day if you have lost weight.
- Protein rebuilds and repairs damaged body tissue. You need about 0.5-0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight to rebuild and repair body tissue. For example, a 150-pound person needs 75 to 90 grams of protein per day. The best sources of protein include foods from the dairy group and meats .
- Fluid needs. Unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise, you should aim for about 64 ounces per day to prevent dehydration. Fluids include juice, milk, broth, milkshakes, Jello® and other beverages. Of course, water is fine, too. Its important to note that beverages containing caffeine do NOT count. And if you are losing fluid from excessive vomiting or diarrhea, you will need extra fluids.
- Supplemental vitamins. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out if vitamin supplements are a good idea for you. Vitamin supplements don’t provide calories, which are essential for energy production. So vitamins cannot substitute for adequate food intake.
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What To Look For
- You feel tired and it doesnt get better with rest or sleep, it keeps coming back, or it becomes severe.
- Youre more tired than usual during or after an activity.
- Youre feeling tired and its not related to an activity.
- Youre too tired to do the things you normally do.
- Your arms and legs feel heavy and hard to move.
- You have no energy.
- You spend more time in bed and/or sleep more. Or, you may have trouble sleeping.
- You stay in bed for more than 24 hours.
- You become confused or cant concentrate or focus your thoughts.
- Your tiredness disrupts your work, social life, or daily routine.
It may be hard for you to talk about it, but tell your cancer care team about your fatigue. Tell them how its affecting your life. Someone on your team should be able to help you if they know youre having this problem. Managing fatigue is part of good cancer care. Work with your cancer care team to find and treat the causes of your fatigue.
How We Treat Cancer At Ctca
We only treat cancer at CTCA. Our team of multidisciplinary cancer experts takes a personalized, patient-centered approach to treating cancer and its side effects.
In addition to using conventional cancer treatments to attack the cancer itself, we provide evidence-informed supportive care therapies to help patients tolerate treatment and reduce side effects, including:
- Nutritional support, which includes the option of meeting with a registered dietitian wholl develop a personalized plan for your nutritional needs
- Behavioral health care, which may include working with therapists to help with depression, anxiety and stress, and using techniques such as talk therapy, mindfulness and relaxation techniques
- Access to professionally led support groups for patients and their loved ones, both in-person and online, including our Cancer Fighters community, where you can connect with cancer survivors
- Naturopathic support, which includes consultations with our naturopathic providers who counsel patients on the use of natural, non-toxic techniques to support the healing process
Providers at CTCA work together under one roof, providing convenient access for patients.
If youd like to get a second opinion or talk to someone at CTCA about getting help for fatigue or other cancer-related side effects youre experiencing, or chat online with a member of our team.
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About Tiredness And Cancer Drugs
Doctors use many types of drugs to treat cancer. But some cancer drugs can make you feel very tired and low on energy. This is also called cancer fatigue.
You might find that your tiredness goes on for most of the time. And that resting does not help you to feel better. As a result, it affects your quality of life on many levels as you cant do your usual activities.
Cancer tiredness is the most common side effect of cancer treatment. It affects between 25 and 99 out of every 100 people . Some people taking cancer drugs say that severe tiredness is the most disruptive side effect of all.
Cancer drugs that can cause tiredness are:
Tiredness often happens as a group of symptoms, for example:
- difficulty sleeping
- muscle weakness
Tiredness can cause any of the symptoms below, but they can also be due to other things. Let your doctor know if you have any of these signs:
- lacking energy and not feeling like doing much and wanting to stay in bed all day
- feeling anxious or depressed
- being breathless after doing small tasks, such as having a shower or making your bed
- finding it hard to concentrate, even if watching TV or talking to a friend
- being unable to think clearly or make decisions easily
- loss of interest in doing things you usually enjoy
- loss of interest in sex
- negative feelings about yourself and other people
How Can I Cope With The Emotional And Psychological Impact Of Fatigue
Fatigue can have a big impact on how you feel and think. Many people struggle with the emotional effects of living with fatigue. Speak to your clinical nurse specialist or GP about how youre feeling.
You could consider getting support from a talking therapist, such as a counsellor or psychologist. Talking therapists work in different ways to help people with difficult thoughts and feelings. Cognitive behavioural therapy is one type of talking therapy. Often, it involves adapting the way you think about things in order to cope more easily with your situation. Sometimes, it includes addressing other difficulties that might be connected to the fatigue, such as sleep difficulties and explaining your fatigue to those around you.
It can take a little while to notice improvements. Instead of reflecting on what you were able to manage to do last week, it can be helpful to compare what you can do now to what you were able to do last month.
Fatigue Can Decrease Your Quality Of Life
Cancer fatigue can affect all areas of your life by making you too tired to take part in daily activities, relationships, social events, and community activities. You might miss work or school, spend less time with family and friends, or spend more time sleeping. In some cases, physical fatigue leads to mental fatigue and mood changes. This can make it hard for you to pay attention, remember things, and think clearly. If you suffer from cancer fatigue, you may need to take leave from a job or stop working completely. Job loss can lead to money problems and the loss of health insurance. All these things can lessen your quality of life and self-esteem.
When To See Your Healthcare Provider
Many people underestimate fatigue and fail to discuss it with their practitioner. Severe fatigue that does not resolve with the tips above should be reported to your healthcare provider.
There can be underlying medical reasons for fatigue, such as anemia, that may need to be addressed. Your healthcare provider may be able to determine what is contributing to your fatigue and offer solutions.
- Memory problems, confusion, or brain fog
- Cant get out of bed
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Medicines Other Than Chemotherapy May Add To Fatigue
Patients may take medicines for pain or conditions other than the cancer that cause drowsiness. Opioids, antidepressants, and antihistamines have this side effect. If these medicines are taken at the same time, fatigue may be worse.