Hyderabad: Cancer fatigue is more challenging than fighting the disease as many patients are not aware why they are tired, unable to concentrate attention or lead quality life as they did before. On World Cancer Day on February 4, experts say the crux of fighting cancer is not recovery alone but also ‘managing to survive’.
Survival with quality life is important and this means people have to build self-confidence to overcome the mental trauma and also the side-effects of the treatment. Many patients are not aware they are suffering from cancer fatigue. Due to the high costs of treatment, many hide their ailment from family. Cancer not only affects an individual but is also a strain on the full family.
Experts state it is important to diagnose cancer early. It’s also crucial to enable recovered patients lead a quality life. There are simple ways to overcome fatigue and the adverse outcomes of treatments.
Dr Ajay Chanakya Vallabhaneni, consultant surgical oncologist and robotic surgeon at KIMS Hospitals, said, “Many factors are linked to cancer fatigue. It is often hard to pinpoint the exact cause. Cancer-related fatigue occurs when cancer spreads to bone marrow and causes anaemia. Anaemia is decrease in red blood cells that carry oxygen to cells. Cancer fatigue is caused also by toxic substances disrupting cell functions. Other factors linked to fatigue are pain, depression and anxiety, inactivity, sleep disturbances, poor nutrition and associated health aliments.”
Treatment drains the patient’s energy. Those who receive chemotherapy, radiotherapy, bone marrow transplants and biologic therapies complain of tiredness. Dr Revanth Gangasani Reddy, oncologist at Aware Global Hospitals, said, “Nearly 70 to 80 per cent of patients suffering from cancer give up hope during the chemotherapy done post- surgery. The family members are counseled that they must be motivated to fight cancer. We have found that some give up midway, others do not have the mental strength while many others succumb due to multiple factors like social, financial and mental distress.”
Cancer drugs not only attack cancer cells but also the fast-growing normal healthy cells. For this reason, there is anaemia and this often leads to fatigue.
Cancers like leukemia, colorectal cancers and lung cancer are found to affect breathing. Dr Surendra Bathula, oncologist at SLG Hospitals, said, “Every patient suffering from fatigue requires the right dietary and nutritional supply. They require proper therapies and support from family and friends in the recovery process. Only 20 per cent are able to provide that support.”