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Coping With Cancer-Related Fatigue

How Can I Lower Stress if I Have Cancer-Related Fatigue?

Managing stress can play an important role in combating cancer-related fatigue. Here are some suggestions that may help.

  1. Adjust your expectations. For example, if you have a list of 10 things you want to accomplish today, pare it down to two and leave the rest for other days. A sense of accomplishment goes a long way to reducing stress.
  2. Help others understand and support you. Family and friends can be helpful if they can "put themselves in your shoes" and understand what fatigue means to you. Cancer groups can be a source of support, as well. Other people with cancer understand what you are going through.
  3. Relaxation techniques such as audiotapes that teach deep breathing or visualization can help reduce stress.
  4. Activities that divert your attention away from fatigue can also be helpful. For example, activities such as knitting, reading, or listening to music require little physical energy but require attention.

If your stress seems out of control, talk to a health care professional.

When Should I Call my Doctor About Cancer-Related Fatigue?

Although cancer-related fatigue is a common, and often expected, side effect of cancer and its treatments, you should feel free to mention your concerns to your doctors. There are times when fatigue may be a clue to an underlying medical problem. Other times, there may be treatments to help control some of the causes of fatigue.

Finally, there may be suggestions that are more specific to your situation that would help in combating your fatigue. Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know if you have:

  • Increased shortness of breath with minimal exertion
  • Uncontrolled pain
  • Inability to control side effects from treatments (such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite)
  • Uncontrollable anxiety or nervousness
  • Ongoing depression

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on January 04, 2014

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