Cancer-related fatigue is common in cancer patients. Fatigue is often confused with tiredness. Tiredness happens to everyone -- it's a feeling you get after doing certain things or at the end of the day. Usually, you know why you're tired, and a good night's sleep solves the problem.
Fatigue is a daily lack of energy or whole-body tiredness that doesn’t go away with sleep. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting up to 6 months or longer). Fatigue can prevent you from doing normal, daily things and affects your quality of life.
Cancer didn't catch Christina Applegate unprepared. Because her mother had battled both breast cancer and ovarian cancer, Applegate had been going for regular mammograms since the age of 30. "But when I turned 36, my doctor said that my breasts were just too dense for mammography alone, and he referred me for screening MRIs at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center," she recalls.
Just a few months before she learned she herself had breast cancer, the actor got a shocking insight into the struggles faced...
Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Usually, it comes on suddenly, and it happens even if you haven't been active. It may continue even after you are done with treatment.
What Causes Cancer-Related Fatigue?
Tumor cells steal calories and nutrients from normal cells, leading to fatigue. Weight loss and a smaller appetite are also common with cancer.
Treatments can cause fatigue, too:
Chemotherapy. Any chemotherapy drug can cause fatigue. In some patients, fatigue lasts a few days, while others say fatigue lasts throughout treatment and even after the treatment is over.
Radiation. Radiation can cause fatigue that gets worse over time. Fatigue usually lasts from 3 to 4 weeks after treatment stops, but it can continue for up to 3 months.