Cancer Causes Fatigue

Fatigue can be a first symptom of tumors of the lymphatic and blood systems. Chronic fatigue, fatigue, often incriminates cancer patients during and after treatment.

Cancer patients can feel tired again and again in all phases of their illness. At first, some cancers only trigger general symptoms, including unusual fatigue. Constant tiredness is particularly noticeable at the beginning of lymphoma tumors, leukemia and certain types of colon cancer. If the tumor continues to spread, the organism is burdened in several ways. Fatigue and fatigue are just one of many expressions.


While treating cancer, especially in chemotherapy and radiotherapy and after surgery, many suffer from fatigue-related fatigue called fatigue (see below). Fatigue is particularly common in breast cancer, lymph node cancer and leukemia.

Lymphomas, tumors of the lymphatic system as a cause of fatigue

The organs of the lymphatic system, which permeates the entire body in addition to the blood vessel system, include lymphatic vessels, lymph, lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen and thymus. Due to external influences as well as changes and internal dysfunctions, cells in the lymphatic system can grow uncontrollably and form benign or malignant tumors. In the rather rare malignant tumors in the lymphatic system, doctors distinguish two groups: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Symptoms: The first signs may be swollen, usually not painful lymph nodes on the neck, but also over the collarbone, under the armpits or in the groin. Depending on the type of lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease or non-Hodgkin’s disease and associated subgroup) lymph nodes also swell or exclusively in other parts of the body, for example in the chest. The spleen, and more rarely the liver, can enlarge. In addition, there are often general complaints such as tiredness, nocturnal sweating, fever, weight loss and itching.

The symptoms are diverse and differ in part depending on the nature and severity of the disease. Symptoms such as difficulty breathing, irritable cough, abdominal pain and diarrhea are also found in Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In addition, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are sometimes more susceptible to infections, increased bleeding, skin, gastrointestinal and central nervous system changes.

The removal of an enlarged lymph node and its histologic analysis is part of the diagnostic measures to determine the exact type of lymphoma, disease stage and therapy.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia: Again and again accompanied by tiredness

This cancer is a non-Hodkin’s lymphoma and leukemia (see below). Because the cancer cells are both in the lymphatic system, as well as in the blood.

Symptoms: Common onset symptoms include fatigue, fatigue, loss of appetite, and unwanted weight loss. Patients often feel tired and exhausted during and after treatment.

Acute leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia: fatigue as a typical symptom

In blood cancer, as commonly referred to as leukemia, white blood cells degenerate. However, the disease already arises in the bone marrow, where the white blood cells are formed. These then grow unchecked, even before they are fully formed. Finally, the cancer cells displace the healthy cells. There are different forms of leukemia. When the lymphatic system is affected, they overlap with the so-called lymphoma disorders.

Symptoms: Typical signs of acute leukemia are initially common symptoms such as fatigue, fever and night sweats. In addition, there is often an increased susceptibility to infection, skin inflammation, paleness, bruises, nosebleeds. Itching, swollen lymph nodes, headache and bone pain are also possible.

Chronic myeloid leukemia begins insidiously, including fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, paleness, abdominal pain, respiratory distress.

Fatigue in colon and rectal cancer

Tiredness as a nonspecific initial symptom often occurs in colon and rectal cancer (colon and rectal carcinoma).

Symptoms: In addition to fatigue, there are alternating, opposing digestive problems, such as altered stool condition, constipation and diarrhea, foul-smelling winds. There are also shortness of breath and weight loss. Only in the further course of the disease set violent, acute abdominal pain. Also possible is an intestinal obstruction.

Fatigue: fatigue in cancer

The French word for fatigue, languor has become the technical term for a specific form of fatigue and fatigue associated with cancer and multiple sclerosis. Fatigue symptoms develop more often in breast cancer, lymphoma or leukemia. Fatigue can be the result of the cancer itself, but also an accompanying symptom of various cancer therapies. It often occurs after surgery, during chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation therapy. Even after the end of the therapy, fatigue sometimes lasts for a certain amount of time or longer and can seriously affect the quality of life.

Symptoms: Cancer sufferers who suffer from fatigue, not only feel frequently or constantly tired, but also physically and mentally weakened, exhausted, impotent. Every activity is difficult for them. The stressful tiredness does not settle when they have rested for some time.

Diagnosis and treatment: Usually there are other, depressing symptoms during cancer and therapy, such as pain, nausea, anemia, depressive moods. In turn, such consequences are often associated with increased fatigue. The specialists will delineate them accordingly and treat them specifically, for example, an anemia. Cancer experts often use special questionnaires to assess fatigue.

Psychological support helps most people with cancer to better cope with their condition, support the therapy and deal with possible fatigue. To make matters worse, it often happens that during the treatment period, cancer patients only move a little and eat poorly. Here, too, an accompanying therapy begins. Under guidance, those affected learn, among other things, to be physically active in the right amount and then to carry out targeted exercise and sports programs regularly at home. Nutritional advice and tips on sleep problems are further building blocks of a comprehensive treatment that also works against crippling fatigue.

Fatigue causes: medication

Some medicines can make you tired. Fatigue is mainly caused by drugs that affect blood pressure, certain nervous functions and hormones

Anyone who feels tired often should also think about which medications he is taking and talk to his doctor about it. Fatigue can be a temporary or permanent side effect of many drugs. It usually plays a role, how long and in which dosage you take a drug.

Do not expose yourself to medication given to you by the doctor or change the dose without consulting your doctor. He will possibly weigh with you the necessary benefit of a remedy and the burden of any adverse effects. It often helps to change the drug combination or select another drug. With a conscious lifestyle and with a disease-adapted movement, some complaints can be mitigated.

In particular, problems can arise when people without medical supervision swallow or use highly effective drugs without paying attention to possible consequences.
Medicines that can make you tired

These include, in particular, active substances that influence the cardiovascular system, neural functions in the brain, hormone production or the immune system. Here is just an example:

Antihypertensives: Tired people often take medicines for high blood pressure. In higher doses may be the so-called beta-blocker. Also suitable are alpha-1-receptor blockers and ACE inhibitors or substances such as clonidine or moxonidine.
Sleep and Tranquillizers: Benzodiazepine substances often cause tiredness during the day, especially if they are long-acting and are taken over a longer period of time. In addition, benzodiazepines can even increase insomnia after some time (see also “sleep disorders”, chapter: causes: drugs, sleeping pills). Other tranquilizers (tranquillizers) and anxiolytic agents often cause drowsiness and dizziness.
Antidepressants, Neuroleptics: Certain drugs for depression are more likely to activate, others calm. Some are associated with partly different but mostly transient side effects, especially in the initial stages of treatment. Fatigue is a common side effect of so-called tricyclic antidepressants. Neuroleptics are drugs against psychosis and states of excitement. In the short term, they can also help with anxiety. Some agents sometimes cause drowsiness and depressive moods.
Migraine drugs: For the treatment of migraine attacks and for prevention, doctors use different drugs. Fatigue is one of the common side effects of, for example, triptans.
Antihistamines: Agents that work against allergies such as hay fever or atopic dermatitis often make you tired. However, this side effect occurs less frequently in the substances most commonly used today, such as cetirizine or loratadine, than in the so-called first-generation agents. These include, for example, the substance dimenhydrinate, which is also taken for nausea and vomiting.
Strong analgesics: These are, for example, opioids such as morphine and others. Fatigue and drowsiness are common side effects.
Interferons: These drugs stimulate the immune system. Among other things, they can lead to fatigue and drowsiness.
Antiarrhythmics: Some drugs against cardiac arrhythmia, for example, belong to the group of sodium channel blockers, especially in higher doses, among other adverse effects, fatigue, dizziness and dizziness.
Cancer medicine: Fatigue is just one of many possible side effects that cytostatic agents used for chemotherapy may have.

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