Fighting Cancer Fatigue

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fatigue is a common symptom experienced by many people with cancer. In fact, research shows that 90% of cancer patients experience fatigue. Cancer-related fatigue is different than other types of fatigue - like what happens when you don’t get enough sleep - because this feeling of exhaustion does not improve with rest. It has been described as a whole body experience and can last for months or even years after finishing cancer treatment.

The exact causes of cancer fatigue and how best to treat it is not always clear. Dr. Mike Evans, in collaboration with the Odette Cancer Centre Patient Family Education Team at Sunnybrook Hospital has launched a visual lecture about cancer related fatigue to help people with cancer and their families reduce their distress through education. According to Dr. Evans, there are many factors that attribute to cancer-related fatigue:

  • Toxic treatments
  • The body repairing itself
  • Altered nutrition
  • Altered sleep cycles
  • Stress
  • Travel
  • Emotional state
So what can you do about it?

According to research, low-to-moderate exercise, activity and walking can help to increase energy levels. Dr. Evans encourages patients to visualize their energy bank account and determine which activities in their life are drawing on the account. What can patients do to add to it? In his latest video, Dr. Evans suggests implementing self-care techniques such as planning, prioritizing and pacing yourself. Most importantly, if you are experiencing cancer-related fatigue, talk to your healthcare provider and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Click here to watch Dr. Evan's visual lecture (script video) and learn more about cancer-related fatigue.