Fatigue

Feeling tired—really tired—may be tied to a number of factors:

  • Cancer treatment, including chemotherapy
  • The cancer itself
  • The emotional aspects of coping with cancer and cancer pain
  • Anemia (low levels of red blood cells, the iron-containing cells that carry vital oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and other tissues in the body)

If you are experiencing fatigue, you should know that this is a symptom for which you can and should seek help. If your doctor doesn’t ask you about fatigue, be sure to bring it up. That’s the best way to find and treat the cause, including fatigue that is a side effect of chemotherapy.

Treating Fatigue

To determine whether there is an underlying physical cause, your doctor may order a number of blood tests to find out if your red blood cell count is abnormally low (anemia), or other hormones or naturally-occurring salts are out of balance. If you are anemic, there are treatment options available. Be sure to take only treatments prescribed by your doctor. Don’t try to treat yourself with over-the-counter vitamins or medicines for “iron-poor blood.” These medicines have not proven to be helpful.