Fatigue affects many patients during and after cancer diagnosis and is frequently related to treatment. Patterns of fatigue are often specific to the type of treatment (e.g. chemotherapy) and may be cumulative (e.g. in radiotherapy). Whilst exact mechanisms are not fully understood, cancer related fatigue is multifactorial, implicating hormonal health (including hypothalamic-pituitary axis disruption and serotonin dysregulation), inflammatory mediators (cytokines), the autonomic nervous system and haematological health. Other causes directly related to disease including anaemia, de-conditioning.
Fatigue can be debilitating and is frequently cited by patients as a factor impacting upon quality of life during and after cancer.
Current evidence supports physical activity for improving fatigue, however it can be difficult for some patients to begin if they feel exhausted. Health professionals can help by explaining the reasons for becoming more active, how to integrate short periods of activity and how to pace activity.
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