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Fatigue - by Dr. Chasse Bailey-Dorton, MD

Fatigue, a common symptom experienced by cancer survivors

Dr. Chasse Bailey-Dorton, MD, is the Medical Advisor of The After Cancer and provides video-consultations through our platform.

Fatigue, a common concern for cancer survivors

From a personal experience with cancer-related fatigue, I can remember feeling too tired to even watch television during chemotherapy treatment. It's not uncommon for individuals undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, to experience profound fatigue that significantly impacts daily life. For me, the journey of recovery included exercise and nutrition, specifically, I started doing triathlons, which would move me as far as possible from that fatigue! In truth, it took a year from the end of chemotherapy and radiation before I felt completely recovered.

What is Cancer-related fatigue?

Cancer-related fatigue is a common and distressing symptom experienced by many individuals undergoing cancer treatment or those who have completed treatment. It is different from normal tiredness and is often described as an overwhelming sense of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion not relieved by rest.

Several factors contribute to cancer-related fatigue, including:

1. Cancer Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other cancer treatments can have a profound impact on the body, leading to fatigue.

2. Anemia: Cancer and its treatments can sometimes decrease red blood cells, causing anemia. This reduction in oxygen-carrying capacity can contribute to fatigue.

3. Inflammation: Cancer can cause inflammation in the body, triggering fatigue as part of the immune response.

4. Sleep Disturbances: Pain, anxiety, and other side effects of cancer and its treatment may disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue.

5. Nutritional Changes: Cancer and its treatments can affect appetite, weight, and nutrient absorption, potentially contributing to fatigue.

6. Emotional and Psychological Factors: Dealing with a cancer diagnosis and its impact on life can be emotionally and psychologically draining, leading to fatigue.

How to manage cancer-related fatigue?

Management of cancer-related fatigue involves addressing these contributing factors. This may include adjustments to treatment, managing symptoms like pain and insomnia, improving nutrition, and incorporating physical activity when possible. It's important for individuals experiencing cancer-related fatigue to communicate with their healthcare team to develop a personalized approach to managing this symptom.


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