Oncology Rehab For Fatigue

Updated: 3 days ago

Cancer related fatigue is an unusual sense of tiredness related to cancer treatment that interferes with usual functioning.

Cancer related fatigue is the most common unmanaged symptom from cancer and treatments reducing capacity for normal activity.

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Sketch of the feeling of fatigue

Pathological fatigue:

  • Occurs during normal activities.

  • Is persistent and pervasive.

  • Does not respond to rest.

  • Forces reduction in normal activity.

Contributors to fatigue:

  • Anaemia

  • Infection

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiotherapy

  • Metabolic Problems

  • Dehydration

  • Psychological Distress

  • Pain

  • Drug Side Effects

  • Autonomic Failure

  • Muscular/Neuromuscular Abnormalities

  • Weight Loss/ Muscle Loss

  • Reduction or Absence of Hormone Secretion

  • Immune Response Substances

Cancer Fatigue can be Multifactorial- biological, psychological and social:

  • Pain

  • Electrolyte/Fluid Imbalances

  • Anaemia

  • Impaired Nutritional Status/ Weight Loss

  • Sleep Disturbances

  • Metabolic Alterations/Systemic Pathology

  • Drug Reactions on the Central Nervous System

  • Psychological Factors

Types of Cancer Fatigue:

Physical Fatigue

  • Tiredness/exhaustion from usual physical activities.

  • Organic cause related to muscular energetics or oxygen absorption, transport and release.

Psychological Fatigue

  • Mental fatigue- lack of concentration, memory loss.

  • Volitional fatigue- inability to begin tasks and avoidance of social contacts

When assessing fatigue we look at:

  • Onset, pattern, duration

  • Change over time

  • Associated or alleviating factors

  • Physical, emotional and mental symptoms

  • Effect on usual function

  • Sleep Issues

Primary Causative Factors:

  • Pain

  • Emotional Distress

  • Sleep Disturbance

  • Anaemia

  • Hypothyroid

Interventions For Fatigue:


  • Known Pattern of Fatigue from Treatment

  • Reassurance Fatigue is Manageable

  • Coping Strategies- Energy Conservation, Distraction, Stress Management

Specific Interventions:

  • Anemia- Iron, Folic Acid

  • Hypothyroid- Thyroid Replacement