Dealing with Cancer-related Fatigue

Most cancer patients eventually will suffer from fatigue. As a side effect of cancer and its treatment, such fatigue is common and can further tax the patient, causing additional stress within the fight against the disease.

According to Marilyn Heine, MD, 2012 president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and a practicing oncologist near Philadelphia, cancer-related fatigue may include feeling tired or even exhausted after sleeping. Some patients will have trouble concentrating, while others will feel unmotivated or lack interest in routine day-to-day activities.

Dr. Heine says that this fatigue is real, and shouldn’t be overlooked. On top of everything else the cancer patient is handling, fatigue is yet another hurdle to be cleared.

“The best thing a patient can do to deal with cancer-related fatigue is to find ways to cope with it,” Dr. Heine says. “There are some ways we can work towards reducing symptoms.”

Dr. Heine suggests the following:

  • Get rest, but not too much rest
  • Stay active with regular exercise that you can handle
  • Eat the right foods
  • Avoid dehydration by drinking enough fluids such as water, juice, milk, broth, and other non-caffeinated beverages
  • Plan ahead so that you can conserve energy
  • Have a strong support system

Dr. Heine also suggests talking to your physician to be sure the fatigue isn’t being caused by another medical condition that needs treatment.