Cancer Related Fatigue

According to guidelines published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, "Cancer-related fatigue is a persistent, subjective sense of tiredness related to cancer or cancer treatment that interferes with usual functioning." The International Classification of Disease-10 defines cancer-related fatigue as "significant fatigue, diminished energy, or increased need to rest, disproportionate to any recent change in activity level." This type of fatigue is often described as an overwhelming tiredness that is not relieved by rest. Normal fatigue occurs at the end of a long and busy day and is usually not overwhelming. Normal weariness is predictable and not intense. The NCCN lists seven factors that are likely to contribute to fatigue in cancer patients: pain, emotional distress, sleep disturbance, anemia, nutrition, activity level, and other medical problems. The tumor itself may also be a factor. Thus, cancer-related fatigue is most likely caused by a combination of factors. Fatigue is a symptom that plagued me and was by far the most debilitating symptom during my recovery.

How does cancer cause fatigue? There are many theories. Tumor cells compete for nutrients, often at the expense of the normal cells' growth. The cancer literature sometimes suggests that the resulting fatigue is related to the direct effect of cancer and the "tumor burden." This type of fatigue is almost certainly influenced at least in part by the type of cancer and the stage of disease, although these relationships have not been thoroughly sorted out. Researchers have also found that fatigue may predate the diagnosis of cancer, further indicating that the growth of the cancer itself may be responsible for fatigue.

Fatigue may be a side effect of cancer treatment—a problem that we don't fully understand. We do know that the type of therapy, the dose and length of a particular treatment, and whether it is combined with other interventions are factors that influence fatigue. The goal of cancer treatment is to kill malignant cells. Unfortunately, most therapies damage healthy cells as well. One theory of cancer-related fatigue as it relates directly to treatment is that your body becomes tired from

10 Ways To Fight Off Cancer

10 Ways To Fight Off Cancer

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