Extreme and recurrent tiredness is one of the common symptoms of most types of cancers. Tiredness is usually considered a warning sign of cancer progressing. Tiredness related to cancers usually does not get better with adequate rest or sleep. Patients may appear exhausted with very minimal activity.
- A cancer cell usually steals calories and robs normal cells of vital nutrients that by itself may lead to tiredness. Patients might not be eating as well as they normally would, depriving cells of vital nutrients that the body needs to function normally.
- In bone marrow cancer, cancer cells may interfere with the normal production of blood cells leading to anemia and tiredness.
- Likewise in cancers related to the stomach, intestine cancers usually cause tiredness because of blood loss.
- Cancers of the prostate and breast interfere with metabolic and hormonal processes causing extreme tiredness in the patient.
- All cancers produce a high amount of cytokines that are natural cell proteins that are normally released by the white blood cells in response to infection. High amounts of these cytokines can be toxic and lead to persistent tiredness.
- Some aggressive cancers may cause swelling in certain parts of the body, making limbs heavier and harder to move contributing to tiredness overall.
- Cancer of the lung may also cause tiredness and breathlessness.
Do cancer treatments cause tiredness?
Unfortunately, yes. Tiredness is usually a side effect of all the cancer treatments. Cancer treatments include:
- Cancer medications: Most and even standard cancer medications that are usually prescribed to target cancer may lead to recurrent tiredness in the patients.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy usually leaves the body depleted of energy even after the therapy. Tiredness and exhaustion are one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy: This treatment causes a serious sense of tiredness that typically lasts three to four weeks beyond the treatment. That isn’t always the case though. Sometimes, it will last for up to three months once the treatment ends.
- Surgery: Surgery may leave the body facing mild, moderate, or even severe exhaustion as patients recover. Many cancers require surgery to attack cancer directly, remove tumors, and prevent the spread of cancer to other areas of the body. Surgeries vary in complexity and impact on the body, and every patient is different.
- Targeted cancer drugs and immunotherapy: Generalized tiredness is usually the side effect of targeted cancer drugs and immunotherapy. Targeted cancer drugs work by targeting the differences in cancer cells that help them to grow and survive. Immunotherapy usually uses the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.
- Hormone treatment: Hormone treatment can cause tiredness because it blocks or lowers the number of hormones in the body. This treatment may be usually used in breast or prostate cancer.
- Cancer-related fatigue after bone marrow transplant: It may last for up to one year after the procedure.
How can a patient manage cancer-related tiredness?
Patients with cancers and those who are on cancer treatment may need to make a few lifestyle changes to cope up with side effects such as tiredness.
- Physical activity: Staying or becoming physically active can help relieve fatigue. The type and level of physical activity may change during and after cancer treatment. Some people may benefit from working with a physical therapist. Doctors may usually discuss with patients how to be physically fit during and after cancer treatments.
- Counseling: Behavioral therapy may help patients to cope up with tiredness. It usually helps patients by reframing thoughts and improving sleep during cancer treatment.
- Stress relievers: Evidence suggests that mindfulness practices, yoga, massages, music therapy, meditation, and acupuncture may reduce tiredness in cancer survivors.
- Diet: Doctors usually prescribe a healthy diet that includes nutrients and vitamins. Alternatively, few supplements may also be prescribed.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Coping up with cancer: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/fatigue/what-is-cancer-fatigue
Top What Type of Cancer Makes You Very Tired? Related Articles
Akynzeo (netupitant and palonosetron)Akynzeo is a prescription medicine called an “antiemetic.” Akynzeo is used in combination with the medicine dexamethasone in people to help prevent the nausea and vomiting that happens right away or later with certain anticancer medicines (chemotherapy). Serious side effects of Akynzeo include allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) and serotonin syndrome when used with other medicines such as antidepressants and anti-migraine medicines, which can lead to death.
Arzerra (ofatumumab)Arzerra (ofatumumab) Injection is a monoclonal antibody used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Common side effects of Arzerra include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, swelling of hands/ankles/feet, trouble sleeping, skin rash, or cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, and sore throat. Arzerra decreases bone marrow function, which can cause anemia.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Cancer 101 SlideshowLearn the basics about cancer including types, causes, how it spreads, symptoms and signs, stages and treatment options. Read about the common type of cancers.
Cancer Risk FactorsThough it's difficult to say why some people develop cancer while others don't, research shows that certain risk factors increase a person's odds of developing cancer. These risk factors include growing older, family history of cancer, diet, alcohol and tobacco use, and exposure to sunlight, ionizing radiation, certain chemicals, and some viruses and bacteria.
Cancer PreventionCertain behavioral, lifestyle, and environmental factors contribute to cancer. Cancer prevention involves modifying these factors to decrease cancer risk. Tobacco use, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, and obesity increase the risk of certain cancers. Vaccines, genetic testing, and cancer screening also play a role in cancer prevention.
Cancer QuizTake this quiz to learn the causes of cancer. Get the facts about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for the world's most common cancers.
Is Cancer Contagious?Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. A variety of parasites and viruses have been linked to various cancers. Cancer may metastasize, spreading from its original location to other organs. If you have cancer, you should seek medical care immediately if you experience high fever, shortness of breath, intense headaches, vomiting blood or passing blood rectally, chest pain or moderate to severe weakness, passing out (fainting), mental status changes, or seizures.
Men's Cancer SymptomsSee pictures of which 15 cancer symptoms men ignore such as skin changes, difficulty swallowing, rapid weight loss, a breast mass, and more. Learn possible clues to finding and detecting cancer early.
Neulasta (pegfilgrastim)Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) is a colony-stimulating factor, a man-made form of a protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells, used to decrease the incidence of infection, by treating neutropenia, a lack of certain white blood cells caused by receiving cancer chemotherapy. Common side effects of Neulasta include bone pain, pain in your arms or legs, or injection site reactions (bruising, swelling, pain, redness, or a hard lump).
Targeted Therapy: What Are Targeted Antiangiogenic Cancer Therapies?Targeted antiangiogenic therapies inhibit the formation of new blood vessels in cancerous tumors by blocking the factors that promote angiogenesis (the name for blood vessel formation). Targeted cancer therapies are specialized treatments focusing on specific factors that promote cancer growth and spread (metastasis).
Targeted Therapy: What Is Oncogenic Addiction in Cancer Cells?Targeted therapy for cancers with oncogenic addiction aims to stop the mutated "oncogene" that fuels the tumor. Research indicates that cancer cells may rely more heavily on oncogenic mutations that originally gave rise to the particular cancer, rather than other reasons for their growth. Such cancers have an oncogenic addiction because they mainly depend on that oncogene’s continued activity for survival.
Targeted Therapy: What Is Replicative Immortality in Cancer?Some targeted cancer therapies aim to stop replicative immortality in malignant tumor cells. Normal human cells can grow and divide only a limited number of times, and undergo planned death (apoptosis) when they become old, damaged, or no longer needed. Cancer cells, due to genetic mutations which enable them to progress through the cell cycle despite DNA damage, replicate infinitely and evade apoptosis. They achieve replicative immortality (until the host dies).
Targeted Therapy: What Is Apoptosis in Cancer Cells?Cancer cells grow and proliferate endlessly. Targeted therapy to stimulate cell death or apoptosis can help keep tumors in check. Normal cells have a finite cell cycle of growth, division and differentiation. The final stage in the cell cycle is apoptosis, or programmed cell death, when they are infected, old, damaged or simply no longer needed.
Targeted Therapy: What Drugs Target the Tumor Microenvironment?Some targeted cancer therapies aim at the pro-survival factors in the tumor microenvironment. The tumor microenvironment is the surrounding tissue, known as stroma, which provides the support for cancer's growth and survival. Targeted cancer therapy is a specialized cancer treatment targeting specific cellular mechanisms that give rise to cancer and help its metastasis.
Targeted Therapy: What Are The 10 Hallmarks of Cancer?Targeted cancer therapy is a specialized treatment for certain cancers with medications that target the proteins and cell-signaling pathways in the cancer cells which drive their growth and proliferation. Targeted therapies also aim to stop some of the other mechanisms in the tumor microenvironment which the cancer cells enslave to foster their growth and metastasis.
Temodar (temozolomide)Temodar (temozolomide) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with certain brain cancer tumors. Temodar blocks cell growth, especially cells that grow fast, such as cancer cells. Temodar may decrease the size of certain brain tumors in some patients. Serious side effects of Temodar include decreased blood cells.
Ziextenzo (pegfilgrastim-bmez)Ziextenzo (pegfilgrastim-bmez) is a man-made form of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF). G-CSF is a substance produced by the body. It stimulates the growth of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell important in the body’s fight against infection. Serious side effects of Ziextenzo include spleen rupture, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), serious allergic reactions, sickle cell crises, kidney injury, increased white blood cell count (leukocytosis), Capillary Leak Syndrome, and inflammation of the aorta (aortitis).