Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatments. It is often described as “paralyzing.” Usually, it comes on suddenly, does not result from activity or exertion, and is not relieved by rest or sleep. It may not end - even when treatment is complete. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from 1 month to 6 months or longer). Fatigue can have a profound negative impact on a person’s ability to function and quality of life.
Chemotherapy: Any chemotherapy drug may result in fatigue. This may vary from person to person. Some people say it lasts only a couple of days. Others feel the CRF persists through and beyond completion of treatment. Drugs such as vincristine, vinblastine, and cisplatin often cause CRF.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy can cause cumulative fatigue (fatigue that increases over time). This can occur regardless of treatment site. CRF usually lasts from 3-4 weeks after treatment stops, but can continue for up to 2-3 months.
Bone marrow transplant: This aggressive form of treatment can cause CRF that lasts up to one year.
Biologic therapy/ Immunotherapy: Cytokines are natural cell proteins, such as interferons and interleukins, that are normally released by white blood cells in response to infection. These cytokines carry messages that regulate other elements of the immune and endocrine systems. In high amounts, these cytokines can be toxic and lead to persistent fatigue.
Anemia, Combination therapy, Tumor-induced “hypermetabolic” state, Hypothyroidism
Pain, Stress, Depression, Insomnia
Decreased nutrition from the side effects of treatments (i.e., nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, taste changes, heartburn, and diarrhea)
Medications used to treat side effects such as nausea, pain, depression, anxiety, and seizures can contribute to CRF.
Many patients try to maintain their normal daily routine and activities during treatments. Modification may be necessary in order to conserve energy.
Be alert to the warning signs of impending cancer fatigue:
Tired eyes, tired legs, whole-body tiredness, stiff shoulders, decreased energy or a lack of energy, inability to concentrate, weakness or malaise, boredom or lack of motivation, sleepiness, increased irritability, nervousness, anxiety or impatience.
Register your patients who have the following CRF signs to our FREE Qnnaire and get them evaluated for their eligibility for the Pilot Study