What Causes Cancer Related Fatigue

Cancer-related fatigue is a common but often overlooked symptom that affects millions of cancer patients worldwide. In fact, estimates suggest that up to 80% of cancer patients experience cancer-related fatigue at some point during their treatment journey. Despite its prevalence, cancer-related fatigue is often misunderstood and underappreciated by both patients and healthcare providers.

Causes of Cancer-Related Fatigue

Causes of Cancer-Related Fatigue

So, what exactly is cancer-related fatigue? It’s a persistent feeling of exhaustion that can be physical, mental, or emotional. Unlike regular fatigue, cancer-related fatigue is not relieved by rest or sleep.

The causes of cancer-related fatigue are complex and multifactorial. Some of the common causes include:

  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy
  • surgery
  • anemia
  • hormonal changes
  • emotional distress
  • sleep disturbances
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • medication side effects

It’s important to note that every cancer patient experiences cancer-related fatigue differently, and the exact cause may vary from person to person.

Management of Cancer-Related Fatigue

ESMO releases Guideline on the management of cancer-related fatigue

The management of cancer-related fatigue consists of various non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions. Non-pharmacological interventions include:

  • exercise and physical activity
  • relaxation techniques
  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • sleep hygiene
  • diet and nutrition counseling

Pharmacological interventions can include medications like antidepressants and stimulants, which can help alleviate some of the symptoms of cancer-related fatigue.

It’s important to note that the treatment approach for cancer-related fatigue should be tailored to the individual patient and their specific symptoms. In some cases, a combination of non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions may be necessary to achieve the best results.


Cancer-related fatigue can significantly impact the quality of life of cancer patients, which is why it’s important for healthcare providers to recognize and address this symptom. By understanding the causes of cancer-related fatigue and implementing appropriate management strategies, healthcare providers can help cancer patients better manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

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As a cancer patient, it’s important to communicate any symptoms of fatigue or exhaustion to your healthcare provider. Together, you can work to determine the cause and develop a customized treatment plan.

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