What are some tips for dealing with fatigue during cancer treatment?

According to the National Cancer Institute, fatigue is one of the most common side effects which will effect up to 96 percent of patients during cancer treatments. It is important to consult a doctor to make sure the cause of fatigue is cancer-related and not a symptom of depression or chronic fatigue syndrome. Cancer patients experience fatigue for a variety of reasons, including the cancer itself, stress, side effects of treatment like anemia, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as the cancer treatment. If your fatigue is due to an underlying cause, such as depression or anemia, there are medications your doctor might prescribe.

There are other steps you can take on your own. Because fatigue can make simple tasks daunting, it is important to plan ahead and prioritize your weekly errands and meal preparations.

Ask your friends and family to help with errands, meals and even chores. Make life easier on yourself by putting items in easy-to-reach places, planning small breaks during the day, freezing food for reheating and utilizing support services like community support groups.

Nutrition is vital for restoring the body’s energy, so add healthy foods into your normal diet. Stay hydrated during the day and stay away from sugary foods.

According to the Mayo Foundation, eating a healthy diet consisting of a variety of foods and getting adequate rest may help you combat the stress and fatigue of the cancer and its treatment. Also, ask your doctor about an exercise plan since exercise can increase your energy level. For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org , or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

Fatigue: PDQ – NCI


Cancer fatigue: Why it occurs and how to cope – Mayo Clinic


This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.