What is cancer fatigue?


Fatigue means tiredness and lack of energy. For people with cancer, this can be severe and last a long time. Cancer or its treatment can cause fatigue.


Fatigue makes you feel like you can't do things at your normal pace. We all feel this at times, like when we're working too hard, worrying about something or overdoing the socialising.


Not eating properly or taking too little exercise can make it worse.


With this type of fatigue, your body is letting you know that you are overdoing it. The tiredness is usually short term and you feel better after you stop and rest.


Fatigue for people with cancer might not go away even when you rest. It can go on for weeks, months or even years after you finish treatment. This is called chronic fatigue, which means long lasting. Most people get back to their normal energy levels from between 6 months to a year after the end of cancer treatment. But it can take longer.


Fatigue is very common in people with cancer. It can be the most troubling symptom. It affects between 70 and 80 out of every 100 people (70 to 80%). Many people say it's the most disruptive side effect of all.


In the past, doctors and nurses haven't always appreciated the long term effects of fatigue on people with cancer. But there is now a lot of research into this area. Things are improving and there are ways of relieving fatigue.


Symptoms of fatigue


Cancer fatigue symptoms are very general and other things can cause them too. But always tell your doctor about anything new or unusual you feel.


Causes of fatigue


A number of things can cause fatigue in people with cancer. This includes the cancer itself and the type of treatment you might have.


How doctors assess fatigue


Before you are treated for fatigue, your doctor will need to ask some questions about how you feel and the treatment you are having.


Treating cancer fatigue


There are lots of ways to manage fatigue and the symtoms you might have. It is important to tell your doctor if you think you may have fatigue.


Research into cancer fatigue


Many people with cancer say fatigue is one of the symptoms that impacts them most. Researchers are investigating what causes fatigue and how to treat it.


Resources and support


There are lots of organisations, support groups and helpful books to help you cope with symptoms and side effects caused by