Fatigue and tiredness are two different sensations
Tiredness is a universal sensation, usually has an identifiable
cause, is short-lived, and is dissipated by a rest or sleep
fatigue experienced by people with cancer is often described as
unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness, disproportionate to or
unrelated to exertion, and is not easily expelled by sleep or rest
it can be acute or more long-term
it can have a profound negative impact on the person's quality
of life by interfering in the ability to perform activities and
roles, as a result, care givers begin to assume many roles and
activities previously held by the patient
many factors may contribute to fatigue, including:
changes in energy production
loss of weight and appetite
decreased nutritional status
overactive or hyper metabolic state due to tumor growth
side effects of therapy (chemotherapy, radiation,
neurotoxicities of cancer or its treatment
changes in activity and rest patterns
instruct patient and family to keep a diary for one week to
identify time of day when they are most fatigued or have the most
- look at the contributing factors
be aware of warning signs of impending fatigue, including tired
eyes, stiff shoulders, decreased or lack of energy, inability to
concentrate, increased irritability, nervousness, anxiety, impatience
identify which activities or situations make fatigue better or
a "1 to 10" scale can be used to assess levels of fatigue, with
1 being the least amount of fatigue and 10 being the worst possible
sensation of fatigue
develop a plan to pace activities by scheduling activities
according to fatigue/energy patterns, see Suggestions for Energy
exercise may improve fatigue, develop an appropriate exercise
program with the physician and physical therapist
monitor the effectiveness of medications and other strategies
that you are using to control other symptoms such as pain, nausea and
vomiting and insomnia
encourage a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates (grains,
legumes, vegetables) that provide a more sustained source of energy
encourage plenty of water (8-10 glasses/day if not
contraindicated) to maintain hydration and to excrete toxins that may
be associated with fatigue
use distraction techniques to focus on things other than
tiredness, illness or disease
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Jan 31, 2013 - Early palliative care clinic visits, integrated with standard oncologic care for patients with metastatic lung cancer, emphasize symptom management, coping, and psychosocial aspects of illness, according to research published online Jan. 28 in JAMA Internal Medicine.