Radiotherapy Associated Fatigue: Causes And Management

How To Manage Fatigue During Breast Cancer Radiation TherapyWhat is fatigue?

Fatigue is the feeling of mental and physical exhaustion, commonly experienced as a symptom of cancer and a side effect of its treatment, especially radiation therapy. Unlike the normal fatigue you encounter in everyday life, this fatigue is long-lasting and might not be cured with the rest.

Radiotherapy fatigue related to cancer can seriously interrupt your daily routine by making you feel lethargic and unwell in general. The degree of fatigue can vary day to day; it may get better one day only to worsen in the next. It is hard to predict how long fatigue will last. Also, fatigue can make it difficult for you to follow your treatment plan. For these reasons, managing fatigue is a vital part of the care of a cancer patient.

Identify fatigue:

Firstly, inform your medical team of your level of fatigue, because fatigue is simply a feeling, and there are no diagnostic tests to assess it. You can use a scale of 0 to 10 (0 mean none and 10 mean the most severe), or just words like ‘none’, ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’. Doctors will help you deal with the fatigue and reduce it, if possible.

Causes of fatigue:

The reasons for radiotherapy fatigue are often not evident. The usual culprits are:

  • Your Cancer: Some cancers often release proteins called cytokines that are believed to cause fatigue. Cancer basically enhances body’s energy needs, weakens your muscles causing the destruction of body’s cells or organs leading to fatigue.
  • Cancer treatment: Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, bone marrow therapy, etc. all destroy healthy body cells along with targeted cancer cells causing fatigue in the whole body. It may also be due to side effects of drugs.
  • Anemia: Anemia develops as a result of cancer treatment as it destroys red blood cells or cancer spreads to the bone marrow that produce red blood cells.
  • Emotion: Stress, depression and anxiety are the result of cancer diagnosis and lead to fatigue.  
  • Infection: Skin infections generate as a result of radiotherapy in the form of skin ulcers or skin wounds. They may lead to dizziness and tiredness
  • Insomnia: Interrupted sleep may cause fatigue and tiredness the whole day
  • Inactivity: If you are a regular exercise person, then inactivity due to radiotherapy leads to fatigue.
  • Medication: Medications such as painkillers or drugs used to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment like nausea and anxiety lead to fatigue
  • Poor nutrition: To perform activities or any work efficiently, energy is required for a healthy. Due to cancer the ability to process nutrients is disturbed and that in turn leads to anorexia (loss of appetite). Hence, cause fatigue.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Changes to the hormonal glands like thyroid gland, adrenal gland, ovaries or testes may all cause fatigue

If the cause is known, treatment can focus on that cause. However, most of the time, the cause remains unknown, so a more fruitful approach to the problem is to learn ways to manage fatigue.

Prevention and Treatment:

Given below are some suggestions on how to manage fatigue in your day-to-day life.

  • Sleep at least 8 hours every day. It may be more than you’re used to, so look for ways that will help you sleep longer. A good deal of physical activity during the day can work wonders for your sleep. Also, find ways to relax before going to bed, such as listening to music or reading a book.
  • Working out for 15-30 minutes each day might help you feel better. Stick to light activity such as walking and stretches, nothing too strenuous. Consult your nurse or doctor on the amount of exercise that is appropriate for you.
  • Try your best to remain active, but don’t waste your precious energy by trying to do everything you want to. Too much effort might worsen your fatigue. Prioritized the things you need to do, and try to do the most important things first.
  • Keep your regular necessities within reach so that you don’t have to exert too much effort to get them.
  • Stress is one of the causes of fatigue, so find ways to keep it at bay. Good suggestions for such activities are listening to music, reading, meditation, prayer and socializing. Any activity that makes you feel relaxed will do.
  • Set aside some time for rest during the day. Taking a short nap might help you feel better. 10 to 15 minutes of rest is usually enough, but try not to make it over an hour.
  • Arrange your work schedule to suit you. Depending on your level of fatigue, you may be capable of working normally, or for not more than a few hours. Working from home is an option to consider. So is taking sick leave for the duration of the treatment.
  • Plan a schedule for radiation therapy sessions that best suits you, keeping in mind your activities for the day.
  • If you find it hard to cope with fatigue, talk to your doctor. Drugs called psychostimulants can ease your fatigue and help you feel better. Also, your doctor will help treat other problems such as depression, insomnia, and anemia.

Conclusion:

Fatigue is usually caused by cancer therapies, in particular radiotherapy. Fatigue can affect the quality of life more than pain or any other symptom. It may be caused due to many reasons. Your doctor may advise you strategies to cope with fatigue related to radiotherapy that might include medications or self-care interventions.

References:

  1. Cancer fatigue; why it occurs and how to cope
  2. Fatigue and Radiotherapy
  3. Radiotherapy tiredness
  4. General information on fatigue
  5. Cancer related fatigue and simple fatigue
  6. Radiotherapy related fatigue

Photo Source: GoodNewsNetwook.Org

Dr. Adem GunesDr. Adem Gunes has built the world’s largest database of scientifically tested natural substances with proven effects in cancer treatments. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chief Physician of ProLife Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, and played a key role in the establishment of the research laboratory. He is also the co-founder of the first Austrian hyperthermia center. Now, Dr. Adem works closely with cancer patients from around the world (including Germany, Thailand, Dubai) to recommend them a complementary cancer clinic or to create a personalized care plan for patients to follow at home.

Exercise! It’s Important For Cancer Survivors and Thrivers

Yoga On The Lawn With Diana Ross, Breast Cancer Survivors & Family Members.

Yoga On The Lawn With Diana Ross, Breast Cancer Survivors & Family Members.

By: Brian D. Lawenda, MD, Clinical Director, 21st Century Oncology &  www.1UpOnCancer.com.

Almost every opportunity I get, I take the time to sit down with my active cancer patients & thrivers and ask them ‘how are you feeling?’

…The number one thing I often hear is ‘I have no energy’ or ‘I’m tired all the time.’

Although potentially serious causes first need to be evaluated and addressed by your doctors, feeling tired during and after cancer treatment (also known as “cancer related fatigue” or CRF) is often a result of the cancer or the effects of treatment on your body. CRF is one of the most common and distressful symptoms our patients face, and it can persist for months to years after treatment. Did you know that one of the most effective ways to fight and reverse CRF is with exercise? Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

No one knows precisely how exercise is able to help you fight CRF. The most likely theory is that exercise reduces inflammation and free radicals in the body (by lowering levels of inflammatory proteins, called “cytokines”), both of which seem to increase the severity and risk of CRF.

Sadly, many patients and physicians feel that once you have been diagnosed with cancer there is no point in focusing on starting healthful lifestyle habits (i.e. smoking cessation, eating healthfully, weight loss if overweight, etc.)…after all, the ‘damage has already been done’, right?

NOT TRUE. Increasingly, researchers are proving that this fatalistic approach is absolutely wrong, particularly when it comes to not getting adequate physical activity.

Studies show that physical activity not only improves your overall health, but can reduce your risk of a cancer recurrence (or even dying from cancer) after treatment.

How many of your doctors have told you about the remarkable effects of exercise in fighting cancer? My guess is not many. You might want to inform them that credentialed research has found that by simply walking 3-4 total hours per week a breast cancer thriver can reduce their risk of a recurrence by up to 60%; this risk reduction is not unique to breast cancer.

An added benefit of exercise is that it will reduce your risk of developing future cancers. Unfortunately, just because you’ve had one cancer doesn’t mean you are out of the woods for developing a different one in the future. I have treated too many patients who have had more than one cancer in their lifetime.

While we are still learning exercises’ role in reducing the development, growth or recurrence of cancer, it seems that at least some of the anti-cancer effects have to do with numerous beneficial hormonal, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative changes that occur in the body from exercise and weight loss.

How much exercise do you need?

The majority of experts recommend that your goal be to get at least 150 minutes each week (30 minutes per day, 5 days per week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e. brisk walking) and at least 2-3 sessions of strength training per week (i.e. weights, resistance exercises.)

New information has come out recently that is also important to know: it’s not enough to only be physically active just once a day for 30 minutes.

We now know that the amount of time we spend each day being inactive (i.e. watching TV, sitting for prolonged periods of time) also increases our risk of cancer growth, recurrence, and death. So, at the very least, get up and do something active every hour.

The health benefits of physical activity extend well-beyond cancer:

  • Reduced risk of dying early from other medical conditions
  • Improved quality of life
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved muscle strength and flexibility
  • Improved bone density
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved immune function
  • Reduced stress, anxiety and depression

Need motivation to get your activity levels up?

I’m a big fan of using a gadget called a “pedometer.” You can clip these to your

waist or wear them on your wrist, and they will count the steps or activity you do through the day. Studies show that most people think they are far more active than they actually are. Using a pedometer is enlightening, as it doesn’t lie. When a person wears a pedometer, researchers have found that activity increases by over 25%. To maintain healthful fitness levels, a goal of 10,000 steps (approximately 5 miles) per day is recommended.

It is smart to be cautious before starting an exercise regimen if you’ve had cancer as you may have new treatment-related side effects or limitations (i.e. lymphedema, neuropathy, limitations in range of motion.) That said, most experts agree that exercise is very safe during and after treatment as long as you are careful. If you have any questions or concerns about what kind of exercise is appropriate and safe for you, discuss this with your doctors. You may also want to work with a fitness professional (i.e. trainers, therapists, cancer rehabilitation programs) to help design an exercise program specifically tailored to you. Make sure that you investigate their credentials first, as it is important that they have experience working with clients who have a history of cancer.

So, what are you waiting for… just do it!

Available Exercise Resources For Breast Cancer:
Restorative Yoga For Breast Cancer Recovery: Gentle Flowing Yoga For Breast Health, Cancer Related Fatigue and Lymphedema Management

Founder of  1UpOnCancer.Com

Rachel Pappas is breast cancer survivor. She is the founder of www.1UpOnCancer.com. And the author of Hopping Roller Coasters, which tells the story of her and her daughter, both diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

15 Benefits Of Yoga For Cancer Related Fatigue

Breast Cancer Yoga Lymphedema

Yoga Model Angela Strynkowski, E-RYT 200, RYT 500 Founder of http://www.AJewelInTheLotus.com

Cancer Related Fatigue Can Often Be Confused With Tiredness

Cancer-related fatigue, (CRF) is very common in breast cancer patients. Fatigue can often be confused with tiredness. Tiredness happens to everyone. One would expect to be tired after certain activities, treatments or from daily activities. Sleep and resting is most important when recovering.

Fatigue can prevent you from functioning normally and impacts your quality of life. However, fatigue is an unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness and is not relieved with sleep.

It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from one month to six months or longer). The precise reason is unknown, but it may be related to the process of the disease itself or through the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. (CRF) is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its associated treatments. Usually, it comes on suddenly, does not result from activity or exertion, and is not relieved by rest or sleep. It is often described as “paralyzing.” It may continue even after treatment is complete.

Yoga Benefits for Cancer Related Fatigue

Breast Cancer Yoga offers a new book “Restorative Yoga For Breast Cancer  Recovery” which offers a specific exercise practice that targets those that suffer from physical and emotional fatigue. BCY addresses and assist in breast cancer recovery from pain and fatigue, resulting in a positive sense of wellbeing. Through increased oxygen consumption by breathing deeply into each pose the results will be renewed vitality. It is important not to over do at first but to gradually implement a daily yoga practice.

When you begin slowly building a yoga practice you will begin notice:

  • positive energy
  • increased flexibility
  • decreased pain
  • stimulation of the organs and glands
  • increased blood flow, and more

It is also important to maintain a positive attitude and know through time and practice there will be improvement to fatigue by:

  • improved sleep
  • decreased joint pain
  • increased energy
  • mental calm
  • increase range of motion
  • strength
  • increased resistance
  • low stress hormone and the psychological benefits

We recommend first that you speak with your health care provider before starting any exercise program. Visit Breast Cancer Yoga’s YouTube Channel for FREE yoga for breast cancer videos. Here is one we suggest to get you started:

To experience the benefits of yoga for breast cancer, it is essential that you begin with simple, gentle yoga movements. You should also consult a doctor before you begin practicing yoga. It is also necessary that you follow a yogic diet that consists of a mainly vegetarian diet to enhance the benefits of yoga.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Restorative Yoga Pose “Knees to Chest” For Breast Cancer

Knees To Chest Yoga Pose For Breast CancerBy: Diana Ross, E-RYT 500, Co-Founder of Breast Cancer Yoga.

The goal of reclined yoga poses is to provide an opportunity for those weakened by breast cancer, to experience the therapeutic benefits of restorative yoga. Breast Cancer Yoga is particularly beneficial when feeling rundown, burned out, stressed or fatigued. It is a powerful discipline that supports the healing process during and after surgery and treatments. Reclined yoga poses help conserve energy when it is needed the most for the body to heal. Many supported yoga poses combined with a restful sleep are very important and healing, especially if fatigue has settled in.

Benefits

  • Improves digestion and elimination
  • Relieves constipation
  • Stretches lower back, knees and hips
  • Reduces stress in lumbar region due to curvature of the lower spine
  • Massages sacrum when rolling side-to-side
  • Enhances parasympathetic response
  • Makes spinal muscles soft and supple
  • Relieves gas and bloating
  • Allows the mind to settle down

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Instructions

  1. Begin on your back with knees bent in PARTIAL RECLINE, feet hip distance apart.
  2. EXHALE bring both knees up to Knees to Chest.
  3. Wrap both arms around the knees or underneath. If the shoulders or head lifts off from the ground place pillow or folded blanket under the head.
  4. Softly roll side to side feeling the back body, especially the sacrum surrender and soften to ground.
  5. EXHALE lowering feet to ground when finished.

Practicing flowing restorative yoga movements, along with evenly pacing the breath will restore strength and increase both energy and flexibility. Breast Cancer Yoga is intended to awaken positive emotions, build self-confidence and diminish depression. As we continue to practice this flowing yoga, we become open to a higher realization of everything and everyone around us. Our world expands and there is a greater acceptance of “what is.”

To experience the benefits of yoga for breast cancer, it is essential that you begin with simple, gentle yoga movements. You should also consult a doctor before you begin practicing yoga. It is also necessary that you follow a yogic diet that consists of a mainly vegetarian diet to enhance the benefits of yoga.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

How Does Yoga Help Those Undergoing Treatment for Breast Cancer?

Yoga For Breast Cancer Treatments

By Breast Cancer Yoga Staff.

Yoga addresses the side effect distresses of (breast) cancer. These side effects can include lymphedema (swelling), cancer-related fatigue, nausea, pain, weight loss, sleep disorders, stress, fear, anxiety, depression and restlessness. In current studies of women managing these symptoms of distress the following was reported: those doing yoga therapy showed a significant reduction in side effect and symptom distresses. Their (QOL) Quality of Life was shown to be significantly higher when practicing yoga. Anxiety, emotional stress, fear and negative moods are common causes of poor (QOL). The entire recovery process can disrupt routines, relationships, careers and other aspects of life. Yoga offers the opportunity to alleviate these obstacles and decrease there interference with recovery. Yoga assists in diminishing suffering from common chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Depression is also important to address with (breast) cancer patients. The uncertainty about prognosis and treatment, concerns of pain or even death, lack of physical and functional abilities and social changes contribute to depression. Patients who practice yoga appear to cope better with symptoms of illness, and the side effects and distresses of treatments. It is sited that the physical poses, breathing exercises, meditation techniques are especially helpful components of a yoga practice.

Where do you begin? Not everyone is disciplined enough to do their yoga at home and others thrive with a home routine. Here are some suggestions on how to start a yoga practice:

  • Start slow, make sure you create a practice that can grow as you regain strength and stamina.
  • Find a place at home that is quiet and well ventilated.
  • Set a time each day or every other day that encourages a routine.
  • Find a competent yoga teacher that teaches to the cancer community or a special breast cancer yoga DVD.
  • Dress comfortably, there should be no constriction for the breath.
  • Eat a light breakfast at least a hour beforehand.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself just persevere. It does get easier, and it is important to manage a self care practice.

One of the many benefits of yoga therapy is that the practice awakens positive emotions, builds self-confidence and reduces depression. There is an openness of spirit that leads to greater understanding when the practice of yoga is embraced. This all can be achieved but there must be determination and fortitude.

Yoga can be a lot of fun. Enjoy every deep, slow breath while moving your arms, legs and torso. It is so important to evenly pace the movement with the breath. The breath is key to your wellness. It too balances the mind, body and spirit. It is the cosmic gas station. “If the mind wanders the breath will follow.” Take it slow, take a big conscious breath, come into the present moment and just Be.

Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

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