How to Manage Fatigue

Fatigue is a common side effect of radiation therapy. It is a signal from your body, telling you that you need to rest. You may need extra rest to help your body heal the normal tissues in your body that are being affected by the radiation. It is important that you get enough good quality rest while undergoing any treatment for cancer.

Fatigue gradually increases over the first 2 weeks or so of the treatments, and continues throughout the course of therapy. It gradually disappears once the treatments are over, and most patients are improved 4-6 weeks after the completion of the radiation. The fatigue may be worse if you are receiving treatment to a large area of your body, if you are receiving or have received chemotherapy too, if you are traveling long distances every day to get your treatment, or if you are trying to continue working at a job while you get treatment.

Ways to Improve Energy Level and Feelings of Well-Being

1. If you are tired, then rest. Many patients will require a nap in the daytime. However, if you are having trouble sleeping at night, try not to nap in the daytime, or limit it to 30 minutes.

2. Pace yourself. Do the activities you like to do, but try not to do so much that you become overtired. In general, you are encouraged to maintain your normal lifestyle as much as possible.

3. Eat a well balanced diet. Weight loss during treatment may contribute to fatigue and other side effects. Ask us if you have any nutritional questions.

4. Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can make you weak.


During Times of Extreme Fatigue, Consider these Ideas

1. If cooking is a chore, try Meals on Wheels.

2. Outside help with household duties and childcare.

3. If working, you may need to cut back on your hours.


Alert your doctor or nurse in Radiation Oncology if you feel your fatigue is severe or overwhelming. With the help of our Dietician and Social Worker, we can look for ways to help you through this time.