Many people are unhappily surprised by the extent of fatigue experienced during treatment. It is even more disconcerting to have continuing fatigue once treatment has been completed. Fortunately, more attention is being paid to this issue, and there will be more suggestions re how to cope. One approach that seems counter-intuitive is this: There was a study of women undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. When they reported being fatigued, they were given one of three possible directions: 1) have a cup of coffee, 2) take a nap, 3) take a 15 minute walk. Those women who took a walk felt best.
Here is a review article from the Journal of General Internal Medicine (first a quote and then a link to read more):
Cancer-Related Fatigue: The Approach and Treatment
Carmen P. Escalante, MD, FACP and Ellen F. Manzullo, MD, FACP
Department of General Internal Medicine, Ambulatory Treatment and Emergency Center, The University of Texas M.D., Anderson CancerCenter, Houston, TX, USA.
As the volume of cancer survivors continues to increase, clinicians are being faced with a growing number of patients with cancer-related fatigue (CRF). Survivors with a variety of malignancies may experience fatigue. Many potential barriers to the identification of this symptomin a cancer survivor may exist, due in part to both the patient and the clinician. Assessment of patients for fatigue is important because it can profoundly effect their daily lives. Many factors contribute to CRF. Hence, the clinician may face a daunting challenge in attempting to alleviate CRF. Treatment modalities for CRF include nonpharmacologic interventions, such as psychosocial interventions, exercise, sleep therapy, and acupuncture. Pharmacologic interventions include stimulants, namely modafinil and methylphenidate. In some patients antidepressants may be beneficial. Clinicians should assess cancer survivors for the presence of fatigue and focus on its treatment in an attempt to ensure that these patients have the best possible symptom control.