KANKO Cancer Coalition introduces
The 1st Online Crowd Funded Clinical Pilot Study on Cancer Related Fatigue
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatments. It is often described as “paralyzing.” Usually, it comes on suddenly, does not result from activity or exertion, and is not relieved by rest or sleep. It may not end – even when treatment is complete. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from 1 month to 6 months or longer). Fatigue can have a profound negative impact on a person’s ability to function and quality of life.
Cancer treatments commonly associated with CRF are:
Chemotherapy: Any chemotherapy drug may result in fatigue. This may vary from person to person. Some people say it lasts only a couple of days. Others feel the CRF persists through and beyond completion of treatment. Drugs such as vincristine, vinblastine, and cisplatin often cause CRF.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy can cause cumulative fatigue (fatigue that increases over time). This can occur regardless of treatment site. CRF usually lasts from 3-4 weeks after treatment stops, but can continue for up to 2-3 months.
Bone marrow transplant: This aggressive form of treatment can cause CRF that lasts up to one year.
Biologic therapy / Immunotherapy: Cytokines are natural cell proteins, such as interferons and interleukins, that are normally released by white blood cells in response to infection. These cytokines carry messages that regulate other elements of the immune and endocrine systems. In high amounts, these cytokines can be toxic and lead to persistent fatigue.
Other factors that may contribute to cancer-related fatigue:
- Anemia, Combination therapy, Tumor-induced “hypermetabolic” state, Hypothyroidism
- Decreased nutrition from the side effects of treatments (i.e., nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, taste changes, heartburn, and diarrhea)
- Medications used to treat side effects such as nausea, pain, depression, anxiety, and seizures can contribute to CRF.
- Pain, Stress, Depression, Insomnia
- Many patients try to maintain their normal daily routine and activities during treatments. Modification may be necessary in order to conserve energy.
How can you understand if you have cancer related fatigue?
- You feel tired and it doesn’t get better with rest or sleep, it keeps coming back or becomes severe.
- You’re more tired than usual during or after an activity.
- You’re too tired to do the things you normally do.
- Your arms and legs feel heavy and hard to move.
- You have no energy and feel weak.
- You spend more time in bed and/or sleep more. Or you may have trouble sleeping.
- You become confused, can’t concentrate or focus your thoughts.
- Your tiredness disrupts your work, social life or daily routine.