Skip to main content

How to Manage Fatigue during Cancer Treatment

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.



is mental and physical exhaustion that does not get better with rest. Your fatigue may make daily activities hard. You may feel sleepy all of the time. You may feel weak, tired, or be not interested in things you normally enjoy. Fatigue may happen during cancer treatment. Fatigue does not always mean that your cancer is getting worse or that the treatment is not working. It is important to manage your fatigue so you can continue to do your daily activities.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have chest pain.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or oncologist if:

  • You have trouble sleeping.
  • You are confused or have trouble thinking or concentrating.
  • You cannot get out of bed for more than 24 hours.
  • Your fatigue prevents you from spending time with others or doing your daily routine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your fatigue:

Only you know what your fatigue feels like, and how severe it is. Explain your fatigue to your healthcare provider by describing it as none, mild, moderate, or severe. You can also use a number scale of 0 to 10. Zero (0) is no fatigue. Ten (10) is the worst fatigue you can imagine. Your healthcare provider can help you manage your fatigue based on how you explain it.

Be active when you can:

Short periods of physical activity may decrease your fatigue. Walk for 15 to 30 minutes each day. You do not have to do 15 to 30 minutes of activity all at once. Instead you can be active in short blocks of time. You can take a short bike ride or ride an exercise bike. When you exercise, choose something that you enjoy.

Plan your activities:

Make a list of all the activities you would like to do in a day. Choose the most important activities to do first. Do activities when your energy levels are the highest. Know your limits and do not plan too many activities for one day.

Plan your work schedule:

You may feel well enough to work during cancer treatment. Do not work for long periods of time or take on too much work. You may be able to plan your treatments for late in the day or before the weekend. Ask your employer what your options are if you feel you cannot work.

Ask for help when you need it:

Ask for help from family or friends to complete activities, do things around the house, or run errands. Let others do things for you so that you can use your energy to do activities that are most important to you. Ask someone to drive you to and from radiation or chemotherapy.

Manage your stress:

Do activities that help decrease stress. Examples include deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, or painting. Choose activities that you enjoy and relax you. Ask your healthcare provider for more ideas on how to decrease stress.

Plan time to rest:

Try to sleep at least 8 hours each night. Read a book or listen to music to help you relax before you go to bed. Take short naps during the day. Do not nap for longer than 1 hour at a time.

Eat a variety of healthy foods:

Healthy foods help increase your energy levels. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

Healthy Foods

Follow up with your doctor or oncologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.