Prostate Cancer Treatment and Fighting Fatigue
Men diagnosed with prostate cancer may experience serious fatigue — and cancer fatigue is more than feeling a little tired, sleepy, or just not having as much energy as usual. Fatigue can be a serious side effect of prostate cancer and its treatments. But the good news is that there are plenty of ways to manage your prostate cancer fatigue.
Why Prostate Cancer Fatigue Happens When you’re being treated for prostate cancer, your body is dealing with an enormous amount of physical changes and problems. Any one of them by itself, and all of them together, can cause prostate cancer fatigue.
- Physical and emotional pain. If your body is coping with pain from prostate cancer and prostate cancer treatment, fatigue is common. Anxiety and stress can also cause you to feel fatigued, and these are common side effects of prostate cancer.
- Not getting enough sleep or exercise. These are common problems in prostate cancer patients.
- Poor diet. This may be because you aren’t getting the healthy foods you need, or because treatment makes it difficult to eat.
- Changes in hormones. Prostate cancer treatments can affect your hormone levels, which can lead to fatigue.
- Anemia. Having a low red blood cell count is a common side effect of some prostate cancer treatments.
- Medicine. The medication you are taking to treat prostate cancer or to decrease other side effects can make you feel fatigued.
Managing Prostate Cancer Fatigue There may be many causes of cancer fatigue, but you don’t have to accept this feeling. Many things can boost your energy levels and help you feel like yourself again.
Keep moving. “The main thing is to try to continue to work through it. Try to remain as active as possible. It seems as though those men who remain active throughout their treatment end up in the long term feeling better and dealing with all sorts of side effects and issues,” says Durado Brooks, MD, director of prostate and colorectal cancer at the American Cancer Society.
Don’t be a couch potato. Don’t be a couch potato. It’s important for prostate cancer patients to avoid the temptation to nap and watch TV, Dr. Brooks says. His recommendation? “Make yourself get up and get moving, if nothing other than just walking around in your yard. If possible, try getting out, getting some sort of regular activity on a regular basis. Take walks, ride bikes — try to maintain as normal an activity level as possible,” Brooks says. One recent study from New Zealand found that prostate cancer patients who got regular exercise experienced less fatigue and better overall quality of life.
Get some sleep. Brooks also recommends making sure you’re getting plenty of rest. Your body is busy fighting off cancer, so it needs sleep. But get most of your sleep at night: A little power nap here or there is okay, but don’t nap for too long during the day or it can keep you up at night. “If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about whether a mild sedative might be helpful,” Brooks says.
Stay well-nourished. Besides good sleep and regular exercise, there are other ways to help yourself feel more energized. It’s always important to keep yourself well-hydrated with plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods — as many fruits and vegetables as you can eat.
Conserve your energy. Save your energy for when you know it will be needed. Take breaks, skip activities that aren’t necessary, and make life easier on yourself. Don’t stand up too long, and don’t brave very hot or very cold temperatures. Don’t expect to be able to do everything that you did before you started prostate cancer treatment. Ask friends and family members to help with such chores as washing the car, yard work, or cleaning the house.
Don’t just accept the fatigue. Take your doctor’s advice, and you’ll feel better and stronger.
Fatigue for someone who has prostate cancer (PC) is much more than just feeling tired and it’s not something that can be remedied with a good night’s sleep. Fatigue can be completely debilitating and many men cite it as one of the worst things about having prostate cancer MORE: Six symptoms of chronic fatigue Fatigue with prostate cancer is often caused by a combination of elements. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can zap energy, coupled with the stress and anxiety of having cancer, it’s little wonder that many prostate cancer patients suffer from the symptom. However, it’s possible to manage fatigue according to Prostate Cancer UK. Ensuring that you try to live as healthily as possible — eating well, sleeping well, drinking plenty of water, and gentle exercise — can help to lessen the effects of fatigue. Conserving energy when you’re feeling fatigued and only doing the bare minimum will help ease feelings of exhaustion. Planning ahead will help you ensure you don’t overload your schedule. Lean on those around you for support and if fatigue is affecting your job, ask your boss if you can work from home or change your hours so you’re working at a more suitable time. Prioritize what needs to be done and what can be left or delegated to others. Look for ways to make chores or tasks easier — sitting down instead of standing or tackling jobs in segments rather than doing it all at once. If depression or anxiety is contributing towards fatigue, it’s important to have these issues addressed. Counseling can help many men going through prostate cancer and your doctor may be able to p Subscribe or log in to access all post and page content.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is a lingering feeling of tiredness that prevents you from participating in your daily activities. This is not the same feeling of tiredness caused from extreme exercise or over exertion.
What causes fatigue?
Many men experience fatigue as a side effect of androgen deprivation therapy or chemotherapy. However, there are several causes of fatigue.
Tell your doctor if you are feeling fatigued. Together, you can work to find out the cause and plan a management strategy for your fatigue.
How can I manage fatigue?
Generally fatigue will begin to decrease as time progresses. However, some people will have to cope with it for an extended period of time. Here are some tips on managing your fatigue:
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Set realistic goals for what you want to accomplish each day
- What time of day do you have the most energy? Try to schedule high-effort activities during that time
- Try to get eight hours of sleep each night
- Take time to rest during the day as you need
- Try to be physically active, start slowly and work up to a comfortable level
- Ask for and allow others to help you
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Understanding Advanced (Stage 4) Prostate Cancer
No matter where prostate cancer spreads, it’s still treated as prostate cancer. It’s harder to treat when it reaches an advanced stage.
Treatment for advanced prostate cancer involves targeted and systemic therapies. Most men need a combination of treatments and they may have to be adjusted from time to time.
Hormone therapy suppresses male hormones that help prostate cancer cells to grow. Your doctor may recommend any of the following hormone therapies:
- Orchiectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the testicles, which is where the hormones are produced.
- Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists are drugs that lower testosterone production in the testicles. You can receive these drugs by injection or by or by implantation under your skin.
- LHRH antagonists are drugs that rapidly lower testosterone levels. You can receive these drugs by monthly injections under your skin.
- CYP17 inhibitors and anti-androgens are available as pills you can take daily.
Side effects of hormone therapy drugs include injection site reactions, sexual dysfunction, and anemia.
In external beam radiation, beams of radiation target the prostate gland or another area of the body. It can help to ease symptoms when prostate cancer has spread to bone. Fatigue is a common side effect.
For internal radiation, your doctor will implant tiny radioactive seeds into your prostate. The seeds emit a permanent low dose or temporary high dose of radiation. Potential side effects include sexual dysfunction, urinary difficulties, and bowel problems.
Chemotherapy kills cancer cells throughout the body. It may shrink existing tumors and slow or prevent the growth of new tumors. Side effects include nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Sipuleucel-T (Provenge) is a vaccine doctors use to treat advanced prostate cancer, especially if it’s not responding to hormone therapy.
The vaccine is made using your own white blood cells. You receive it intravenously in three doses spaced two weeks apart. Side effects may include:
- a headache
- back pain
- joint pain
While some surgery to remove tumors may be an option, your doctor is less likely to recommend it for prostate cancer that has spread to multiple areas.
Be sure to tell your doctor if some of these treatments are impacting your quality of life. You can also ask about clinical trials for prostate cancer. These trials involve newer treatments that aren’t yet in use.
In addition to treating the cancer, your doctor may be able to offer solutions for specific symptoms like pain, fatigue, and urinary problems.