Fatigue in People With Cancer

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Coping with fatigue

Learning about fatigue patterns, how bad it might be, and how long it might last are key parts of dealing with fatigue. Many times, a family member who learns with you can help you talk to your health care team about your fatigue.

Here is a recap of things you can do to manage and reduce your fatigue:

  • List your activities in order of how important they are to you, so you can do the more important ones when you have the most energy.
  • Ask for help and have other people do things for you when possible.
  • Focus on one thing at a time; don’t try to multi-task.
  • Put things that you often use within easy reach.
  • Set up and follow a structured daily routine, keeping as normal a level of activity as possible.
  • Balance rest and activity. Too much time in bed can make you weak. Try to avoid it. Schedule activities so that you have time for plenty of rest that does not interfere with nighttime sleep. A few short rest periods during the day are better than one long one.
  • Learn ways to deal with your stress. Try to reduce it using things like deep breathing, imagery, meditation, prayer, talking with others, reading, listening to music, painting, or any other things you like to do.
  • Keep a record of how you feel each day. Take it with you when you see your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor about how to manage any pain, nausea, or depression you may have.
  • Talk to your doctor about physical exercise before you start an exercise program. Then report to your doctor on how you are doing with your exercise, especially if you want to increase your activity.
  • Get fresh air, if possible.
  • Unless you are given other instructions, eat a balanced diet that includes protein (meat, milk, eggs, and beans) and drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

The first thing to do for fatigue is talk to your doctor or nurse about it. Let them know how bad it is so you can get the help you need to deal with it.

Remember: There’s no one way to diagnose or treat fatigue. The best treatment for you is most likely to be found through open discussions with your doctor and your nurse.


Last Medical Review: 12/10/2012
Last Revised: 12/10/2012