How can I deal with fatigue caused by cancer treatment?

If you are undergoing cancer treatment or expect to be, it's important to plan for the eventuality that you may feel very fatigued during the treatment period. If possible, arrange in advance to have friends and family pitch in with meal preparation, child care, caring for your pets and other household tasks in case you don't feel up to doing such things. Speak with your employer about taking time off or working flexible hours while you're undergoing treatments. Studies have shown that general fatigue, including fatigue caused by anemia, affects more than three-quarters of people undergoing cancer treatment. Other side effects of treatment can include nausea, depression and pain.
During chemotherapy or radiation treatments, over 50% of cancer patients experience fatigue or tiredness. For extreme fatigue caused by anemia, your doctor may prescribe epoetin alfa (Procrit or Epogen) or darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp).

To combat fatigue or tiredness, as well as anemia, at home you may want to:
  • Slow down. Especially for a few days after chemotherapy treatments.
  • Get plenty of rest. Sleep more at night and take naps during the day if you can.
  • Follow an aerobic exercise routine (recommended by your doctor for your particular cancer condition). Start with something simple such as walking for a few minutes, and build on that. It's reported that people who exercise regularly during treatments experience less fatigue overall.
  • Conserve your energy and prioritize your activities in order of importance. You may not be able to keep the same pace of life as you did during your pre-treatment days.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, including plenty of calories and protein. If you don't feel like eating, try smaller snacks and juices or a liquid meal replacement. Or try taking a walk before eating or changing your eating location.

Continue Learning about Cancer Treatment

Surprising Treatment for C. diff and Chemo
Surprising Treatment for C. diff and Chemo
Tomatoes were once considered poisonous -- even in Italy! -- and early pioneers were convinced that bathing was an open invitation to catching ...
Read More
How can I make healthier choices during and after cancer treatment?
Dr. Vincent T DeVita JrDr. Vincent T DeVita Jr
For many people, a diagnosis of cancer helps them focus on their health in ways they may not have th...
More Answers
What is interventional oncology?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Interventional oncology is a field of medicine that combines cancer treatment (oncology) with imagin...
More Answers
How Can We Find the Cure for Cancer?
How Can We Find the Cure for Cancer?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.