Fatigue Is The Most Common Side Effect Of Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, bone marrow transplantation, and immunotherapy can cause fatigue. Fatigue is also a common symptom of some types of cancer. People with cancer describe fatigue as feeling tired, weak,worn-out, heavy, slow, or that they have no energy or get-up-and-go. Fatigue in people with cancer may be called cancer fatigue, cancer-related fatigue, and cancer treatment-related fatigue.
Worried About Having A Dre
Its natural to feel worried or embarrassed about having tests, but some men find the idea of having a DRE upsetting. For example, if youve been sexually abused as a child or an adult, you might feel very upset about having this test. Theres no right or wrong way to feel about this, and it is your choice whether or not you have tests for prostate cancer.
It might be helpful to talk to a counsellor about your experience, thoughts and fears. Or you could contact a charity for people whove been sexually abused, such as the National Association for People Abused in Childhood or SurvivorsUK. If you do decide to have a DRE, explain your situation to your doctor as they can talk through the test with you and help to reassure you.
When I had the DRE I thought, For a few seconds of discomfort, I can live with it. Yeah its uncomfortable, but it could save your life. A personal experience
Fatigue And Memory Problems May Be Related
During and after cancer treatment, you may find that you cannot pay attention for very long and have a hard time trying to think, remember, and understand. This is called attention fatigue. Sleephelps to relieve attention fatigue, but sleep may not be enough when the fatigue is related to cancer. Take part in restful activities and spend time outdoors to help relieve attention fatigue.
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Loss Of Libido And Erectile Dysfunction
The hormones that are often used to treat advanced prostate cancer can decrease libido and cause erectile dysfunction , which occurs when a man isnt able to have or keep an erection to have sex, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York.
As a result, for couples, theres a real struggle to recover that sense of life together how to be intimate without having sex, says Michael J. Morris, MD, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
Depending on the type of treatment that caused the ED, the ability to have an erection may improve over time, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. You and your partner may want to explore other ways to be intimate in your relationship. A sex therapist or couples counselor may be able to help. There are also treatments available for erectile dysfunction, such as medications and implants.
Certain Drugs Are Being Studied For Cancer Fatigue
The following drugs are being studied for cancer fatigue:
- Psychostimulants are drugs that improve mood and help decrease fatigue and depression. Psychostimulant drugs may help some patients have more energy, a better mood, and help them think and concentrate. The use of psychostimulants for treating fatigue is still being studied. The FDA has not approved psychostimulants for the treatment of fatigue.
- Bupropion is an antidepressant that is being studied to treat fatigue in patients with or without depression.
- Steroids are being studied in patients with advanced cancer. Dexamethasone is a steroid that reduces inflammation, but has unwanted side effects. In one clinical trial, patients who received dexamethasone reported less fatigue than the group that received a placebo.
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of these drugs.
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How To Prevent Prostate Cancer
According to Mayo Clinic, theres no tried-and-tested way to prevent prostate cancer but steps can be taken reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
There is some evidence that choosing a healthy diet that’s low in fat and full of fruits and vegetables may contribute to a lower risk of prostate cancer, notes the health site.
Obesity has also been associated with prostate cancer risk so it is important to control your weight.
You can do this by reducing the number of calories you eat each day and increasing the amount of exercise you do, explained Mayo Clinic.
Studies also suggest exercising is directly associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer and provides additional health benefits, such as slashing your risk of heart disease.
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Abdomen
If you are getting radiation to your stomach or some part of the abdomen , you may have side effects such as:
Eating or avoiding certain foods can help with some of these problems, so diet planning is an important part of radiation treatment of the stomach or abdomen. Ask your cancer care team about what you can expect, and what medicines you should take to help relieve these problems. Check with your cancer care team about any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs youre thinking about using.
These problems should get better when treatment is over.
Some people feel queasy for a few hours right after radiation therapy. If you have this problem, try not eating for a couple of hours before and after your treatment. You may handle the treatment better on an empty stomach. If the problem doesnt go away, ask your cancer care team about medicines to help prevent and treat nausea. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as you are told to do.
If you notice nausea before your treatment, try eating a bland snack, like toast or crackers, and try to relax as much as possible. See Nausea and Vomiting to get tips to help an upset stomach and learn more about how to manage these side effects.
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If Youre Having Radiation Therapy To The Pelvis
Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause side effects such as:
- Bladder problems
- Fertility problems
- Changes in your sex life
You might also have some of the same problems people get from radiation to the abdomen, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
Radiation to the pelvis can cause problems with urination, including:
- Pain or burning sensations
- Blood in the urine
- An urge to urinate often
Most of these problems get better over time, but radiation therapy can cause longer-term side effects as well:
When Should I Call My Doctor
Although cancer-related fatigue is a common, and often an expected side effect of cancer and its treatments, you should feel free to mention your concerns to your health care providers. Fatigue may be a clue to an underlying medical problem. Other times, there may be treatments to help control some of the causes of fatigue.
Finally, there may be suggestions that are more specific to your situation that would help in combating your fatigue. Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know if you have:
- Increased shortness of breath with minimal exertion
- Uncontrolled pain
Try To Keep Up With Your Daily Routine
If you work and are feeling up to it, try to go even if its not for the entire day. Talk to your boss, coworkers, or fellow volunteers about what you can handle. Remember that people who seem unsupportive might be worried about their own chances of getting cancer. Decide if youd rather avoid talking about cancer or be open about it. Do whatever feels right for you.
Spend time with family and friends or go on a trip. Ask yourself some simple questions: What makes me happy? What do I enjoy? Or do the things you havent had time for, such as going on a cruise, learning to play chess, or finding time to pick up that old guitar.
Not Sleeping Well Causes Fatigue
Some people with cancer are not able to get enough sleep. The following problems related to sleep may cause fatigue:
- Waking up during the night.
- Going to sleep at different times every night.
- Sleeping duringthe day and less at night.
- Being inactive during the day.
- The time of day that cancer treatment is given.
Poor sleep affects people in different ways. For example, the time of day that fatigue is worse may be different. Some people with cancer who have trouble sleeping may feel more fatigue in the morning. Others may have severe fatigue in both the morning and the evening. People with cancer who are inactive during the day, have restless sleep, or who have obesity may have higher levels of fatigue.
Even in people with cancer who have poor sleep, fixing sleep problems does not always improve fatigue. A lack of sleep may not be the cause of the fatigue. See the PDQ summary on Sleep Disorders for more information.
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How Fertility Might Be Affected
For women: Talk to your cancer care team about how radiation might affect your fertility . Its best to do this before starting treatment so you are aware of possible risks to your fertility.
Depending on the radiation dose, women getting radiation therapy in the pelvic area sometimes stop having menstrual periods and have other symptoms of menopause. Report these symptoms to your cancer care and ask them how to relieve these side effects.Sometimes menstrual periods will return when radiation therapy is over, but sometimes they do not.
See Fertility and Women With Cancer to learn more.
For men: Radiation therapy to an area that includes the testicles can reduce both the number of sperm and their ability to function. If you want to father a child in the future and are concerned about reduced fertility, talk to your cancer care team before starting treatment. One option may be to bank your sperm ahead of time.
See Fertility and Men With Cancer to learn more.
Elevation In Inflammation Marker Il
- H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
- Researchers are investigating whether inflammation in the body, a side effect of ADT, contributes to these symptoms in prostate cancer patients. They pinpoint a specific inflammation marker that is associated with increased fatigue in this group of patients.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in the U.S. For many patients, hormone therapy is a treatment option. This type of therapy, also called androgen deprivation therapy , reduces the level of testosterone and other androgens in the body. Lowering androgen levels can make prostate cancer cells grow more slowly or shrink tumors over time. However, patients receiving ADT often experience higher levels of fatigue, depression and cognitive impairment.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers are investigating whether inflammation in the body, a side effect of ADT, contributes to these symptoms in prostate cancer patients. In a new study published in the journal Cancer, they pinpoint a specific inflammation marker that is associated with increased fatigue in this group of patients.
While the groups did not differ at baseline, researchers noticed a significant increase in fatigue and depressive symptoms in the ADT patients over the 12-month period. They also saw an increase in one inflammation marker, IL-6, in this group of patients.
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and a Miles for Moffitt Milestone Award.
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Talking With Your Health Care Team About Fatigue
Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:
- What is most likely causing my fatigue?
- What should I keep track of and share so we can develop a plan to help me feel better?
- What types of exercise do you recommend for me?
- How much rest should I have during the day? How much sleep should I get at night?
- What food and drinks are best for me?
- Are there treatments or medicines that could help me feel better?
Questions To Ask The Doctor
- What treatment do you think is best for me?
- Whats the goal of this treatment? Do you think it could cure the cancer?
- Will treatment include surgery? If so, who will do the surgery?
- What will the surgery be like?
- Will I need other types of treatment, too?
- Whats the goal of these treatments?
- What side effects could I have from these treatments?
- What can I do about side effects that I might have?
- Is there a clinical trial that might be right for me?
- What about special vitamins or diets that friends tell me about? How will I know if they are safe?
- How soon do I need to start treatment?
- What should I do to be ready for treatment?
- Is there anything I can do to help the treatment work better?
- Whats the next step?
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How Can I Prevent Cancer Fatigue
You cant do much to prevent cancer-related fatigue. But these strategies may help minimize the problem:
- Adopt healthy sleep habits: To build better sleep habits, keep phones and TVs out of the bedroom, go to bed at the same time every night and sleep in a dark, quiet room.
- Ask for help: Let family and friends run errands, fix meals or help with housework or child care.
- Cut back on caffeine:Caffeine provides a temporary pick-me-up. But it can also keep you up at night.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Its important to stay hydrated and eat nutritious foods.
- Set priorities: Be realistic about what you can do. Save your energy for the things that matter most.
- Stay physically active: Go for a walk or try yoga or tai chi. Dont exercise too late in the evening. The activity may make it harder to fall asleep.
- Take 30-minute rest breaks: During the day, dont sleep longer than 30 minutes or you could have trouble falling asleep at night. Rest breaks can help if you have an upcoming event that requires a lot of energy.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A chronic illness like cancer can bring many unwanted challenges. Cancer fatigue is one of them. It makes sense that fighting off cancer can tire out your body. Cancer treatments can also be physically and mentally exhausting. Still, you shouldnt hesitate to let your healthcare provider know how cancer fatigue is affecting your life. You can take steps to bring more energy back into your days.
Money And Financial Support
If you have to reduce or stop work because of your prostate cancer, you may find it hard to cope financially. If you have prostate cancer or are caring for someone who does, you may be entitled to financial support:
- if you have a job but cannot work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you do not have a job and cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you are caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance
- you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home or if you have a low household income
Find out early what help is available to you. Speak to the social worker at your hospital, who can give you the information you need.
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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast
If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects.
Short-term side effects
Radiation to the breast can cause:
- Skin irritation, dryness, and color changes
- Breast soreness
- Breast swelling from fluid build-up
To avoid irritating the skin around the breast, women should try to go without wearing a bra whenever they can. If this isnt possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires.
If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely.
Breast soreness, color changes, and fluid build-up will most likely go away a month or 2 after you finish radiation therapy. If fluid build-up continues to be a problem, ask your cancer care team what steps you can take. See Lymphedema for more information.
Long-term changes to the breast
Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. The skin may be more or less sensitive and feel thicker and firmer than it was before treatment. Sometimes the size of your breast changes it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. These side effects may last long after treatment.
After about a year, you shouldnt have any new changes. If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away.
Less common side effects in nearby areas
Impact On Everyday Activities
If you have no symptoms, prostate cancer should have little or no effect on your everyday activities. You should be able to work, care for your family, carry on your usual social and leisure activities, and look after yourself.
If your prostate cancer progresses, you may not feel well enough to do all the things you used to. After an operation or other treatment, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy, you’ll probably feel tired and need time to recover.
If you have advanced prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of your body, you may have symptoms that slow you down and make it difficult to do things. You may have to reduce your working hours or stop working altogether.
Whatever stage your prostate cancer has reached, try to give yourself time to do the things you enjoy and spend time with those who care about you.
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