beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger


Posted 4/15/2016

Posted in

  Cancer fatigue is not like the fatigue that follows a too late night or a too long hike the previous day. It is not fatigue that can be fixed with a strong cup of coffee or even a nap. It is devious and persistent and very often an issue for people going through and, later, recovering from cancer.

  Cancer fatigue comes in many flavors. The fatigue, for example, that accompanies radiation therapy is often described like suddenly, at very high speed, hitting a wall that you didn't know was right in front of you. You can be going through your day and suddenly feel as though you need to collapse. Fatigue that accompanies chemotherapy is often more gentle but more chronic. Fatigue after surgery is easily associated with a healing body, and a long nap and longer nights help.

  Sometimes it seems as though nothing much helps, and fatigue can be disabling. I know several women who are being treated now with a new and promising drug for Stage IV breast cancer. They are hopeful that it will beat back the cancer, but they are spending days on the couch and beginning to question the value of a treatment that wrecks their quality of life.

  From Cancer Net comes this good summary:


Cancer-related fatigue is a persistent feeling of physical, emotional, or mental tiredness or exhaustion related to cancer and/or its treatment.This type of fatigue is different than tiredness from not getting enough rest. Cancer-related fatigue:
Causes problems with a person’s usual functioning
Does not reflect their level of activity
Does not improve with rest
Most people receiving cancer treatment experience fatigue. Some cancer survivors have fatigue that lasts for months and sometimes years after finishing treatment.
Talk with your health care team about any symptoms of fatigue you may experience. This includes any new symptoms or a change in symptoms. Diagnosing and relieving side effects is an important part of your cancer care and treatment. This is called symptom management or palliative care.
How fatigue affects your quality of life
Fatigue often affects the overall physical, psychological, social, and economic well-being of a person with cancer. For some, it is slightly bothersome, while for others the experience can be overwhelming. Fatigue may influence your:
Daily activities
Hobbies and other enjoyable activities
Social relationships
Mood and emotions
Job performance
Feeling of well-being and sense of joy
Attitude toward the future
Ability to cope with treatment

Read more:


Add your comment