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.
When Is The Right Time To Use Hospice Care
Many people believe that hospice care is only appropriate in the last days or weeks of life. Yet Medicare states that it can be used as much as 6 months before death is anticipated. And those who have lost loved ones say that they wish they had called in hospice care sooner.
Research has shown that patients and families who use hospice services report a higher quality of life than those who dont. Hospice care offers many helpful services, including medical care, counseling, and respite care. People usually qualify for hospice when their doctor signs a statement saying that patients with their type and stage of disease, on average, arent likely to survive beyond 6 months. More information about hospice can be found below in the Related Resources section of this fact sheet.
How Can I Combat Cancer Fatigue
The best way to combat fatigue is to treat the underlying cause. Unfortunately, the exact cause may be unknown, or there may be multiple causes. There are treatments to reduce certain causes of cancer fatigue, such as anemia or hypothyroidism. Other causes must be managed on an individual basis.
The following are tips you can use to combat cancer fatigue:
- Conserve energy.
- Manage your stress.
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Skin And Nail Changes
Some drugs can affect your skin. It may become dry or slightly discoloured. Chlorine in swimming pool water can make this worse. Your skin may also be more sensitive to sunlight during and after treatment. Tell your cancer doctor or nurse if you develop any skin changes or rashes.
Your nails may grow more slowly or break more easily. You may notice white lines across your nails, or other changes to their shape or colour. Once the treatment has ended, any changes usually take a few months to grow out.
Effects On The Heart Or Lungs
Some chemotherapy drugs can increase the risk of heart or lung problems later in life. Your doctor can give you more information about this. There are things you can do to help improve your general health.
We have helpful tips on looking after your heart and how late effects can be monitored and managed.
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What Are The Complications Of Cancer Fatigue
Persistent fatigue can interfere with your ability to participate in lifes activities. You may miss out on time with family and friends. It can affect your ability to concentrate and think clearly. Some people are too exhausted to continue working.
As many as 1 in 4 people with cancer develop depression. Sometimes, its hard to determine if fatigue leads to depression or vice versa.
Can A Dietitian Help Me Fight Cancer Fatigue
Dietitians can provide suggestions to work around any symptoms that may be interfering with caloric intake. They can help you find ways to take in calories despite an early feeling of fullness, swallowing difficulty or taste changes. Dietitians can also suggest ways of maximizing calories and proteins in smaller amounts of food. They may suggest powdered milk, instant breakfast drinks and other commercial supplements or food additives.
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What Are The Signs That The Person Has Died
- The person is no longer breathing and doesnt have a pulse.
- Their eyes dont move or blink, and the pupils are dilated . The eyelids may be slightly open.
- The jaw is relaxed and the mouth is slightly open.
- The body releases the bowel and bladder contents.
- The person doesnt respond to being touched or spoken to.
- The persons skin is very pale and cool to the touch.
When To Stop Cancer Treatment
When you have cancer and you have tried many treatments without success, its hard to know when to stop treatment. Sometimes, even with the best care, cancer continues to spread. It is hard to accept, but the best thing for you at that point may be to stop the cancer treatment. Instead, you could focus on getting care to keep you comfortable and out of pain.
The following explains how to know when it is time to stop treatment and focus on end-of-life care. You can use this information to talk with your doctor about your options and choose the best care for you.
Cancer responds best to treatment the first time.
When you treat a tumor for the first time, there is hope that the treatment will destroy the cancer cells and keep them from returning. But if your tumor keeps growing, even with treatment, there is a lower chance that more treatment will help.
This is especially true for solid-tumor cancers, like breast, colon, and lung cancer, and sarcoma. Doctors know a lot about how these cancers grow or shrink over time and how they respond to treatment. They have found that treatment after treatment offers little or no benefit.
When is it time to think about stopping cancer treatment?
Still, almost half of people with advanced cancer keep getting chemotherapyeven when it has almost no chance of helping them. They end up suffering when they should not have to.
How do you know when to stop treatment?
Hospice care improves your quality of life.
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How Does Cancer Cause Death
Every patient is different, and the way cancer causes death varies. The process can depend on the type of cancer, where it is in the body, and how fast its growing.
For some people, the cancer cant be controlled anymore and spreads to healthy tissues and organs. Cancer cells take up the needed space and nutrients that the healthy organs would use. As a result, the healthy organs can no longer function. For other people, complications from treatment can cause death.
During the final stages of cancer, problems may occur in several parts of the body.
In some cases, the exact cause cant be pinpointed and patients simply decline slowly, becoming weaker and weaker until they succumb to the cancer.
Again, every patient is different and all processes have different stages and rates in which they advance. And some conditions have treatments that can help slow the process or make the patient more comfortable. Its very important to keep having conversations with the patients health care team.
How Can Exercise Help Reduce Cancer Fatigue
You may feel ill from your cancer or treatment, which may lead to less physical activity. Decreased levels of physical activity can lead to tiredness and lack of energy. Scientists have found that even healthy athletes forced to spend extended periods in bed or sitting in chairs develop feelings of anxiety, depression, weakness, fatigue and nausea. Regular, moderate exercise can decrease the feeling of fatigue and help you feel energetic. Even during cancer therapy, it’s often possible to continue to exercise. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.
Exercise has many health benefits. Regular exercise can:
- Increase your appetite.
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Dont Cling To Any One Test Result Or Prognosis
Cancer cases tend to change. Doctors may give you a prognosis and treatment plan after the first image or biopsy, but then change the prognosis or treatment after gaining more information about your cancer from further testing. After diagnosis, I kept telling myself that my cancer was stage I, no chemo needed, so no big deal. I was angry, then, when further tests revealed that the genetics of my cancer made it more serious, and that chemo would need to be added to the treatment plan. Looking back, what I saw at the time as âbait and switchâ was simply medical professionals responding to new information. Thatâs just the way medicine progresses sometimes. Expect it.
What Is The Right Kind Of Exercise For Cancer Fatigue
It’s important for you to exercise your whole body every day, or at least every other day. A good exercise plan starts slowly, allowing your body time to adjust. Any kind of exercise is acceptable, including walking, riding a stationary bike, yoga or swimming , and strength training. Whatever kind of exercise you do should be at a moderate intensity so you can say to yourself “I am working somewhat hard.” Avoid exercise that makes you feel sore, stiff or exhausted.
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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:
Nausea Vomiting And Taste Changes
You may experience nausea and vomiting after your last chemotherapy treatment. It should go away in 2 to 3 weeks.
Your appetite may continue to be affected due to taste changes you may have experienced during your treatment. Your taste should go back to normal 1 to 2 months after chemotherapy. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help with these changes. Talk with your nurse if youd like more information.
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Why Dont Patients And Oncologists Discuss Prognosis
Dr O: I thought that it would help everybody for Mr L to hear that he couldnt get into a clinical trial because physically he wasnt up to the standards of the trial. That, I thought, would have allowed Mr L to accept palliative care sooner than he did.
Mrs L: I never thought too much was too much. You always hope that he can come out of this by some miracle. The too much was when he became ill in the hospital.
When the prognosis is predictable, as with Mr L, why do most oncologists not directly address it? One paradoxical explanation is that patients do not want to discuss such terrible issues with their oncologist. Of 101 inpatients with cancer admitted without advanced directives, only 23 wished to discuss the issue with their oncologists however, 56% of those without advanced directives supported discussing it with the admitting physician and not the oncologist.68
When Is Chemotherapy Not Recommended
Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Although chemotherapy is an effective cancer treatment, it’s not recommended for everyone. In certain situations, chemotherapy may not be recommended for patients who may experience serious side effects from the treatment.
In this article, we’ll discuss when chemotherapy is not recommended and what factors are taken into consideration when making that decision.
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How Should Caregivers Talk To Children About A Family Member’s Advanced Cancer
Children deserve to be told the truth about a family members prognosis so they can be prepared if their loved one dies. Its important to answer all of their questions gently and honestly so they dont imagine things that are worse than reality. They need to be reassured that they will be taken care of no matter what happens.
Caregivers need to be prepared to answer tough questions. To do this, they should know what their own feelings and thoughts are about the situation. They need to be able to show children how to hope for the best while preparing for and accepting that their loved one may die.
Dont Freak Yourself Out With Chemo Horror Stories Each Chemo Experience Is Unique
First, I flipped out because of the portrayals of chemo that Iâd seen in the movies. Then, I flipped out again when I went to a support group meeting and met women already going through chemo. As they discussed their suffering and fear and side effects, I felt sure that my chemo experience was going to be just like that.
It wasnât. Everyoneâs chemo experience is completely different. In that support group meeting, I listened to a woman who had endured multiple hospitalizations because their immune system had been compromised. They were so sick that sometimes the docs had to postpone their infusion to give them time to get a little stronger. Another woman said they didnât want to eat because everything tasted like metal to them. Yet another said they were struggling with itchy skin rashes.
None of these things ended up happening to me. Different things did, and they werenât fun. But they werenât as bad as Iâd feared, either. Remember that each body reacts differently to particular drugs. You may have a tough time, or you may not. The best thing to do is wait and see.
What Happens To Cancer Patients Who Choose Not To Receive Chemotherapy
Every cancer situation is different. Some cancers are more associated with pain than others. Pancreatic cancer can be particularly bad when it grows into nerves near the back of the pancreas. But Ive had many patients with pancreatic cancer where pain wasnt a problem.
Instead, like many other patients with advanced cancers, they became weaker and more frail as their cancer worsened, then became wheelchair and then bed bound.
Cancers metastatic to bone are often painful but in some cases the discomfort is mild or more severe pain can be relieved with radiation therapy.
There are specialists who assist in managing cancer symptoms.
The most frequent outcome when cancer patients die is that whatever pain they have is controlled with narcotics and or sedatives.
There often comes a point in poorly treatable cancer situations that the treatment is as bad or worse than the disease. Everyone should understand the goals of chemotherapy as well as potential side effects and common complications.
Almost everyone is willing to try chemotherapy if there is a meaningful chance for cure. Many patients decline chemotherapy for low odds of benefit especially if they have gotten very weak or have other symptoms that make their quality of life very poor.
What To Expect During Chemotherapy Treatment
Chemotherapy treatments can vary drastically based on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. A chemotherapy appointment may take place in an oncology clinic, doctors office, or the hospital.
Because chemotherapy can cause significant side effects, the treatment is usually given in rounds with breaks in between. These breaks allow time for your body to recover. The chemotherapy treatment and rest period are known as a treatment cycle.
Chemotherapy can be given in the following forms:
- Intravenous : The medication is injected directly into the vein over a few minutes to hours.
- Oral: Chemotherapy is given in pill form and can be taken at home.
- Injected: The medication is given as an injection into the muscle or subcutaneous, under the skin, tissue.
- Intra-arterial: Chemotherapy is injected directly into a large vein known as an artery.
- Abdominal: Some cancers are treated with chemotherapy placed directly into the abdomen.
- Topical: Topical chemotherapy is applied to the skin in the form of a cream. This can be given at home.
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What If I Want To Stop Treatment Altogether
Maybe you have advanced cancer and have already exhausted all other treatment options. Maybe you have a type of cancer that doesnt respond to certain therapies. Or, maybe you find your remaining options lacking in benefits, not worth the physical and emotional toll, or too disruptive to your quality of life.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology , if youve had three different treatments and the cancer is still growing or spreading, more treatment isnt likely to make you feel better or increase your lifespan.
Choosing to stop chemotherapy or other cancer treatment is a big decision, but its your decision to make. No one understands the reality of your life better than you do. So, consult with your doctor, talk to your loved ones, and give it a lot of careful thought but make the choice thats best for you.
Either way, its important to remember that the decision to stop chemo or any therapy isnt giving up or giving in to cancer. It doesnt make you a quitter. Its a reasonable and perfectly valid choice.
Should you decide to stop undergoing treatment, you still have some options for care.