Does Lung Cancer Make You Fatigued?

Fatigue is one of the most common and taxing symptoms experienced by people with lung cancer. Lung cancer and its related treatments can cause fatigue in patients. Fatigue is often characterized as feeling exhausted and weak; however, it is greater than simply feeling tired – there is much more to this complicated symptom.

Between 80 to 100 percent of cancer patients report experiencing cancer-related fatigue according to the American Cancer Society. If you are feeling fatigued, lung cancer may be the cause. Continue reading to discover more about this debilitating lung cancer symptom.

What Does Fatigue Feel Like?

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is different from ordinary exhaustion that you might experience after a long day. Fatigue caused by cancer persists even when you got plenty of rest or drank a lot of coffee. Many patients characterize CRF as “paralyzing.” There are two classifications of fatigue: acute (lasting a month) and chronic (lasting longer than a month).

There are warning signs of impending CRF including tired eyes and legs, stiff shoulders, lack of energy, boredom, and irritability. Signs of lung cancer fatigue often include feeling:

  • Whole-body tiredness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Persistent tiredness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling emotional
  • Sudden exhaustion
  • Sleeping a lot

Extreme fatigue can also be associated with other cancer symptoms such as shortness of breath, dry cough, and lung pain. Persistent CRF can interfere with life’s general activities. As a result, as many as 1 in 4 people with cancer develop depression.

When Should You Ask the Doctor About It?

If you are experiencing persistent symptoms and are unsure of the cause, it may be time to discuss it with a medical professional. You should ask your caregiver or healthcare provider about CRF if you:

If you are aware of a cancer diagnosis and notice a change if your symptoms, you should also discuss it with your doctor. Your healthcare provider may suggest treatment and coping options for the unmanageable side effects of cancer. Additionally, they may consider changing your treatment plans if they believe that is the source of CRF.

Questions to Ask About Fatigue

You may want to inquire with your healthcare provider by asking questions such as:

  • What is the cause?
  • How can I manage it?
  • How long will my CRF last?
  • What are the signs of complications?

What Is the Most Common Cause of Fatigue?

There are several potential causes of fatigue related to lung cancer. Patients can experience CRF due to the lung cancer itself, its associated treatments, or the general stress of experiencing cancer. For example, radiation can make people tired and patients can experience fatigue after surgery. Some common causes of CRF include:

  • Cancer itself
  • Treatment and its side effects
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Anemia
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Medications
  • Immobility
  • Difficulty eating

Older and immunocompromised populations are often more susceptible to the extremities of these symptoms. Specifically, CRF is often worse in people who have a combination of treatments, are elderly and have advanced cancer.

What Stage of Cancer Causes Fatigue

Any type of cancer and treatments can cause CRF, however, it tends to worsen throughout the progression of cancer and its associated treatments. Many people experience CRF as an early sign of the presence or recurrence of cancer. Stage 4 lung cancer causes the most extreme side effects in patients. In advanced cancer, fatigue is a common persistent symptom after chemotherapy and radiation.

Treating Lung Cancer Fatigue

Even if you are in remission, you can experience post-cancer fatigue syndrome. Some patients can experience fatigue for weeks after while others experience it for years. There are general tips to follow to fight CRF including:

  • Conserve energy
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat a proper diet
  • Exercise
  • Seek mental health support

If home remedies are not providing relief, medical centers can help. The best way to treat CRF is to address the underlying cause. However, it can be difficult to trace the exact cause(s). Some treatments and medications can treat certain causes of cancer fatigue such as anemia. Most cases should be treated and managed on an individual basis.