How to Say It: CAN-sir Fah-TEEG
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Cancer fatigue is a feeling of extreme weakness and tiredness. It happens during cancer treatment. At times, it can make it hard to do basic tasks. The fatigue can last for weeks or even years. Treatment can help.
Cancer fatigue is caused by cancer and the side effects of treatment. Fatigue can be made worse by:
Things that raise the risk of cancer fatigue are:
Symptoms of cancer fatigue may be:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may ask questions and give a questionnaire. This will help make a diagnosis.
The goal is to help ease fatigue. It is also to treat conditions that may be causing the fatigue, such as anemia.
Treatment options may be:
It is not always possible to prevent cancer fatigue. Managing treatment and side effects can help.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Provincial Health Services Authority
Anemia of chronic disease. Iron Disorders Institute website. Available at:
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Accessed September 22, 2021.
Cancer pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cancer-pain. Accessed September 22, 2021.
Cancer-related fatigue at the end of life. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cancer-related-fatigue-at-the-end-of-life. Accessed September 22, 2021.
Fatigue and weakness. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/fatigue.html. Accessed September 22, 2021.
General information about fatigue. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/fatigue/fatigue-pdq. Accessed September 22, 2021.
Mohandas H, Jaganathan SK, et al. Cancer-related fatigue treatment: An overview. J Cancer Res Ther. 2017;13(6):916-929.
Toxicities of chemotherapeutic agents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-review/toxicities-of-chemotherapeutic-agents. Accessed September 22, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 9/22/2021
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