Fatigue may begin in the second week of treatment, continue throughout treatment, and disappear about three to six weeks after treatment has ended. The information and suggestions listed below are based on information people to you have given us about their fatigue while receiving radiation treatments and what was helpful to them. Fatigue will be easier to deal with if you know about it and how you can manage it.
Tiredness of feeling fatigued is a common side effect of radiation therapy. The degree of tiredness varies greatly from person to person and is thought to be caused by three main factors. First, the body is working hard to rid itself of the cancer cells that have been destroyed are constantly in the process of repairing themselves. Finally, coming to the radiation department on a daily basis disrupts your routine and may add to your tiredness.
Patients have found the following tips to be helpful:
- Rest when you feel tired. Naps during the day, sleeping later in the morning or going to bed earlier at night may be helpful.
- Maintain your usual lifestyle activities as much as possible, but pace activities according to your energy level. Plan on doing your most important activities first or when you are feeling your best.
- Many patients continue to work or attend school while receiving radiation treatments. If your fatigue becomes great, you may find that you need to reduce your hours or stop temporarily.
- Ask friends and family members to help with daily chores, shopping, childcare or driving.
- Good nutrition will help your energy level. Additional protein and calories are needed to help the normal cells repair themselves. Good sources of protein are: meat, poultry, fish, cheese, yogurt, milkshakes, and Ensure or Boost liquid supplements.
- Mild exercise sucha as walking, golf, swimming or stretching may actually increase your feelings of energy. Heavy exercise, however, should be avoided.