Side Effects of Chemotherapy


Fatigue side effects from chemotherapy can range from a mild to an extreme feeling of tiredness.

Many people describe fatigue as feeling weak, weary, worn-out, heavy, or slow. Resting does not always help. Many people say they feel fatigued during chemotherapy treatment and sometimes for weeks or months after its completion. Certain types of chemotherapy are known to cause fatigue. The effort of making frequent visits to the doctor, emotional stress, anxiety and depression can all add to your exhaustion. If you receive radiation therapy in combination with chemotherapy, your fatigue may be more severe.


Ways to Manage Fatigue:

  • You might want to try meditation, prayer, yoga, guided imagery, visualisation or other ways to relax and decrease stress.
    Eat and drink well. Often, this means 5 to 6 small meals or snacks rather than three large meals. Keep foods around that are easy to prepare, such as canned soups, frozen meals, yoghurt and cottage cheese. Drink plenty of fluids each day – about 8 cups of water or juice.
  • Plan time to rest. You may feel better when you rest or take a short nap during the day. Many people say that it helps to rest for just 10 to 15 minutes rather than nap for a long time. If you nap, try to sleep for less than an hour. Keeping naps short will help you sleep better at night.
  • Be active. Research shows that exercise can ease fatigue and help you sleep better at night. Try going for a 15-minute walk, doing yoga, or riding an exercise bike. Plan to be active at times of the day when you have the most energy. Talk with your doctor or nurse about ways you can be active while getting chemotherapy.
  • Try not to do too much. With fatigue, you may not have enough energy to do all the things you want to do. Choose the activities you want to do and let someone else help with the others. Try quiet activities, such as reading, knitting, or learning a new language.
  • Sleep at least 8 hours each night, which may be more sleep than you needed before chemotherapy. You are likely to sleep better at night when you are active during the day. You may also find it helpful to relax before going to bed. For instance, you might read a book, work on a jigsaw puzzle, listen to music, or do other quiet hobbies.
  • Plan a work schedule that works for you. Fatigue may affect the amount of energy you have for your job. You may feel well enough to work for your full schedule, or you may need to work less – maybe just a few hours a day or a few days each week. If your job allows, you may want to talk to your boss about ways to work from home, or you may want to go on medical leave while you get chemotherapy.
  • Let others help you. Ask family and friends to help you when you feel fatigued. Perhaps they can help with household chores or drive you to and from doctor’s visits. They might help by shopping for food and cooking meals that you can eat when you are feeling fatigued.
  • Learn from others who have or have had cancer. People who have cancer can help by sharing ways to manage fatigue. Joining a support group is a good way to meet others who are faced with similar challenges. Talk with your doctor or nurse to learn more.
  • Keep a diary of how you feel each day. Keeping track of your well being will help you plan the best ways to use your time. Share your log with your nurse. Let your doctor or nurse know if you notice a change in your energy levels.
  • Talk with your doctor or nurse. Your doctor may prescribe medication that can help decrease fatigue, give you a sense of well-being, and increase your appetite. He or she may also suggest treatment if your fatigue is caused by anemia.

Fatigue Can Also Be Caused By

  • Anemia
  • Pain
  • Medications
  • Appetite changes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of activity
  • Trouble breathing
  • Infection
  • Doing too much at one time
  • Other medical problems

We are here to assist you in your battle against cancer.