How Does Cancer-related Fatigue Differ from Normal Tiredness?

Tired? Try taking a nap, drinking coffee, eating, or taking a brisk walk around the block. Any or all of these solutions may help put the giddy-up back in your day.

But these steps are often not enough for cancer patients because they’re more than tired. They’re battling fatigue brought on by cancer and its treatments. Fatigue is among the most common symptom or side effects of cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that almost all cancer patients report experiencing fatigue beyond what they may consider normal tiredness.

“The fatigue felt by people with cancer is different from the fatigue of daily life and different from the tired feeling people might remember having before they had cancer,” the ACS says.

Cancer may damage organs, weaken muscles, and impact cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. The emotional toll of cancer—stress, anxiety and fear—may also cause a seemingly endless state of exhaustion. And if cancer itself doesn’t cause fatigue, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy may.

“Fatigue was one of the biggest issues I dealt with,” says Anthony Perre, MD, New Patient Intake Physician at City of Hope Atlanta and a Hodgkin lymphoma survivor. “For many survivors, it’s one of those things that’s very difficult to deal with because of the emotional aspect that goes along with it. Fatigue does not go away immediately after you’re done with treatment. There’s concern and fear that the cancer is still present, which is why, for some survivors, fatigue may last years. For me, I would say that it probably lasted at least 18 months.”

Read more to understand the difference from City of Hope.

About City of Hope
Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is now City of Hope®.  To expand patient access to personalized, leading-edge cancer care, City of Hope® acquired Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) last year, uniting our shared vision, values and commitment to high-quality, compassionate care that puts patients first. Today, we aren’t just part of City of Hope; we are City of Hope

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