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Cancer-Related Fatigue Program

Get Back to Enjoying Life

Lipson Cancer Institute’s Cancer-Related Fatigue Program aims to combat the effects of cancer-related fatigue and help patients enjoy the benefits of improved daily functioning, including the enhanced ability to perform self-care and leisure activities.

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What Is Cancer-Related Fatigue?

Affecting nearly 70% of cancer patients, cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is the most common side effect of cancer treatments. CRF is more than simple tiredness–it is a daily lack of energy and an unusual or excessive whole-body exhaustion that is not relieved by rest or sleep.

It can be acute (lasting a month or less), or chronic (lasting from one month to longer). Even if other aspects of your cancer treatments are going well, CRF can still prevent normal daily function and significantly impact your quality of life. 

Cancer-Related Fatigue Symptoms

Cancer-related fatigue can be a common side effect of cancer treatment. In some cases, the condition may continue even after your cancer treatments are completed.

For many, cancer-related fatigue is: 

  • Being unable to concentrate
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling like your limbs are heavy
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Not wanting to do things

Fatigue may range from mild to severe and can develop gradually or start very suddenly. Some find everyday tasks difficult, and others struggle to exercise. Cancer-related fatigue varies person-to-person, and if you are finding it difficult to do things you once loved, it may be time to speak with your Lipson Cancer Institute provider.

Cancer-Related Fatigue Causes

The exact cause of CRF is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by:

  • Cancer treatments and nausea medications: different treatments may affect your energy levels differently
  • Toxic substances: the build-up after your cells are killed by cancer
  • Injury to normal cells
  • Fever (anything above 100.4 F)
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite: resulting in not getting enough calories and nutrients
  • Being less active
  • Emotional challenges: anxiety, depression, grief, and family stress

  • Conserving Your Energy

    Below are some ways you can save your energy when doing activities of daily living. These small changes may help you with fatigue, but be sure to check with your provider or cancer-care team if you have any questions or concerns.

    General Activities

    When traveling long distances, consider using a wheelchair or walker to conserve your energy. Don’t rush your activities, and be sure to sit whenever you can. Taking a rest whenever you’re feeling tired can be hugely beneficial, as can maintaining even, normal breathing. If your regular activities are more tiresome than usual, be sure to mention it at your next appointment.

    Bathing

    Warm water and standing for long periods can exhaust easily-tired bodies. If you are low on energy, install grab bars in your shower, purchase and use a shower bench to sit on, and utilize a long-handled sponge or loofah to reach those hard-to-get places.

    Getting Ready

    Choosing clothes that fit loosely and are easy to get on and off is a good way to make getting dressed less exhausting. When you’re dressing, doing your makeup, styling your hair, or shaving, it may be beneficial to sit down and take it easy.

    Cancer-Related Fatigue Treatment

    Physical therapy and exercise are the only recognized evidence-based treatments for Cancer-Related Fatigue. Research has proven that exercise is safe and beneficial during chemotherapy and radiation, and is safe and helpful for patients with advanced disease.

    The Rochester Regional Health Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation team and the Lipson Cancer Institute have collaboratively developed a treatment program for Cancer-Related Fatigue, in which skilled physical and occupational therapists use a holistic approach to help counteract some of the effects of this condition.

    Guided by our experienced rehabilitation therapists, you will follow a personalized exercise regimen that helps relieve Cancer-Related Fatigue symptoms – increasing your strength, mobility, and endurance, while improving balance and energy conservation.

    Our compassionate physical therapists will work with you to develop an appropriate exercise program for your level of functioning, carefully monitor your sessions to ensure that each workout is safe and successful, and adjust your program as needed over time based on your progress.

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Take Control of Your Fatigue

If you suffer from Cancer-Related Fatigue, this program can help you restore the sense of health, energy, and well-being that may be missing. Talk with your oncologist about whether a referral to Rochester Regional Health’s Cancer-Related Fatigue Program might be right for you.
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