Managing cancer-related fatigue

Cancer-related fatigue is the term used to describe extreme tiredness and is one of the most common, distressing and under-addressed symptoms in people living with or beyond a blood cancer.

Cancer-related fatigue is not improved by rest and affects people physically, psychologically and socially; making it hard to complete normal everyday activities. It sometimes improves when treatment has finished but for some people it may last for months or years.

Symptoms and causes

Cancer-related fatigue can have many different causes including symptoms of the disease or side-effects of treatment. Some of these symptoms or side-effects may be linked together which can cause a cycle of fatigue.

People with fatigue are often incorrectly advised to rest and limit activity. However, physical inactivity causes muscle weakness, increased stiffness and pain, and this may make fatigue worse.

Fatigue is often linked to several physiological and psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, anaemia, weight loss and pain. These symptoms are linked to one another and can make each other worse which makes fatigue difficult to manage.

It is important to speak with your doctor to find out which symptoms might be making your fatigue worse.

Check out our Managing cancer related fatigue factsheet for tips on managing fatigue.


There has been a lot of research that shows fatigue can be managed well with regular exercise. Exercise is important to improve fitness, strength, and flexibility and also has a positive effect on emotional well-being and quality of life.

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean hard physical activity. The amount and type of activity will be different for everyone and will depend on your diagnosis, treatment and current blood results. Walking up the stairs may be enough exercise for one person whereas a 30 minute bike ride might be more appropriate for someone else.

Speak with your doctor, nurse or physiotherapist about an exercise programme that would be good for you

Check out our Managing cancer related fatigue factsheet for examples of exercises you can do to manage fatigue.

Managing cancer-related fatigue

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