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Fatigue: understanding the symptoms and ways to manage it


A cancer survivor dealing with fatigue as side effect of her treatment. She is using the after clinic to improve her quality of life.

One of the most common side effects of cancer treatments is cancer fatigue, a feeling of physical and emotional tiredness that can last for months. In this post, we'll explore cancer fatigue symptoms, what cancer fatigue feels like, and ways to manage it.

What is cancer fatigue?

Cancer fatigue is a multi-dimensional symptom that can have various contributing causes, making it a complex symptom to manage. It can show up in different forms and affect people with cancer differently. Some people experience fatigue during cancer treatment, while others experience it after completing treatment. Post-cancer fatigue syndrome is a type of cancer fatigue that affects people after cancer treatment, making it hard to perform routine activities. Fatigue can be challenging to manage and is often accompanied by other symptoms like pain, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.

What does cancer fatigue feel like?

Cancer fatigue symptoms can manifest differently in each person, making it challenging to define what it feels like for everyone. Generally, cancer fatigue is described as a feeling of physical and emotional tiredness that doesn't improve with rest. People with cancer fatigue may feel a lack of energy, weakness, or exhaustion. The severity of cancer tiredness can vary and can be debilitating, making it hard to perform daily activities.

What causes cancer fatigue?

Cancer fatigue can have many contributing causes, including the type of cancer and treatment received, existing diseases, medications, living and working conditions, and mental status. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause cancer fatigue. Chemotherapy-induced fatigue, also known as chemo fatigue, is particularly challenging to manage, as it can be severe and long-lasting.

How to manage cancer fatigue?

While there is no simple medical treatment for cancer fatigue, there are many ways to manage it.