Articles On Cancer Pain Fatigue & Mental Health
Fatigue is often confused with tiredness. Tiredness happens to everyone — it’s a feeling you expect after certain activities or at the end of the day. Usually, you know why you are tired and a good night’s sleep solves the problem.
Fatigue is a daily lack of energy it is excessive whole-body tiredness not relieved by sleep. It can last for a short time or stay around for longer . Fatigue can prevent you from functioning normally and gets in the way of things you enjoy or need to do.
Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common side effects of cancer and its treatment. It is not predictable by tumor type, treatment, or stage of illness. Usually, it comes on suddenly, does not result from activity or exertion, and is not relieved by rest or sleep. It is often described as “paralyzing” and may continue even after treatment is complete.
Nurturing Your Emotional Health
The symptoms and treatments of advanced lung cancer can take a toll on your mental health. Its essential to care for your emotional well-being.
You may find joining a support group is helpful. Its an opportunity to share experiences and wisdom with others who are going through the same experience as you.
Working with a mental health professional may also be beneficial. This person can help you to identify, understand, and cope with difficult thoughts and feelings.
Choices About Care And Treatment At The End Of Life Should Be Made While The Patient Is Able To Make Them
A patient may wish to receive all possible treatments, only some treatments, or no treatment at all in the last days of life. These decisions may be written down ahead of time in an advance directive, such as a living will. Advance directive is the general term for different types of legal documents that describe the treatment or care a patient wishes to receive or not receive when he or she is no longer able to speak their wishes.
Studies have shown that cancer patients who have end-of-life discussions with their doctors choose to have fewer procedures, such as resuscitation or the use of a ventilator. They are also less likely to be in intensive care, and the cost of their healthcare is lower during their final week of life. Reports from their caregivers show that these patients live as long as patients who choose to have more procedures and that they have a better quality of life in their last days.
See the PDQ summary on Planning the Transition to End-of-Life Care in Advanced Cancer for more information.
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The Stages Of Lung Cancer
The stages of lung cancer include:
- Stage 0: Tumors are extremely small and exist only in the lungs.
- Stage 1: Tumors are average size in the lungs with no spreading elsewhere in the body.
- Stage 2: Tumors are both in the lungs and lymph nodes or blood.
- Stage 3: Tumors have spread from the lungs to other tissues in the chest, as well as in the lymph nodes or the blood.
- Stage 4: Tumors have spread throughout the body into other organs, such as the brain or liver.
What To Look For
- You feel tired and it doesnt get better with rest or sleep, it keeps coming back, or it becomes severe.
- Youre more tired than usual during or after an activity.
- Youre feeling tired and its not related to an activity.
- Youre too tired to do the things you normally do.
- Your arms and legs feel heavy and hard to move.
- You have no energy.
- You spend more time in bed and/or sleep more. Or, you may have trouble sleeping.
- You stay in bed for more than 24 hours.
- You become confused or cant concentrate or focus your thoughts.
- Your tiredness disrupts your work, social life, or daily routine.
It may be hard for you to talk about it, but tell your cancer care team about your fatigue. Tell them how its affecting your life. Someone on your team should be able to help you if they know youre having this problem. Managing fatigue is part of good cancer care. Work with your cancer care team to find and treat the causes of your fatigue.
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Quality Of Life And Survival Rate For Stage 4 Lung Cancer
Lung cancer becomes more serious and difficult to treat as it progresses. Advanced or metastatic lung cancers of any kind tend to have very low survival rates. However, the cancer’s stageor how advanced it isis a significant factor in your prognosis.
One way to estimate life expectancy when battling cancer is to consider the five-year relative survival rate for that type of cancer. A five-year relative survival rate shows the likelihood that a person with a specific type and stage of cancer would live for at least five years after the diagnosis, compared with people who don’t have cancer. The rate includes the life expectancy of patients who are still in treatment and those who have finished treatment and have no further evidence of disease.
- Patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer thats spread to distant organs or regions of the body have a five-year relative survival rate of 7 percent, according to ACS.
- For metastatic small cell lung cancer thats widespread in the body, the five-year relative survival rate is 3 percent.
It’s important to remember that these rates are based on patients who had advanced lung cancer at least five or more years ago, and the rates may not account for recent advances in treatment options. The rates also don’t consider all factors specific to each individual, such as the type of cancer and the care he or she is receiving.
How Can I Prevent Cancer Fatigue
You cant do much to prevent cancer-related fatigue. But these strategies may help minimize the problem:
- Adopt healthy sleep habits: To build better sleep habits, keep phones and TVs out of the bedroom, go to bed at the same time every night and sleep in a dark, quiet room.
- Ask for help: Let family and friends run errands, fix meals or help with housework or child care.
- Cut back on caffeine:Caffeine provides a temporary pick-me-up. But it can also keep you up at night.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Its important to stay hydrated and eat nutritious foods.
- Set priorities: Be realistic about what you can do. Save your energy for the things that matter most.
- Stay physically active: Go for a walk or try yoga or tai chi. Dont exercise too late in the evening. The activity may make it harder to fall asleep.
- Take 30-minute rest breaks: During the day, dont sleep longer than 30 minutes or you could have trouble falling asleep at night. Rest breaks can help if you have an upcoming event that requires a lot of energy.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A chronic illness like cancer can bring many unwanted challenges. Cancer fatigue is one of them. It makes sense that fighting off cancer can tire out your body. Cancer treatments can also be physically and mentally exhausting. Still, you shouldnt hesitate to let your healthcare provider know how cancer fatigue is affecting your life. You can take steps to bring more energy back into your days.
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Treating Metastatic Lung Cancer
Treating metastatic lung cancer is challenging. This stage of cancer may continue to spread, and small bits of the disease may linger in the body and cause a recurrence, even if the treatment appears successful. Therefore, treatment will typically focus on extending and bettering life by relieving symptoms and controlling the cancer’s growth. A few things to consider:
- If you have advanced lung cancer, ask your doctor what to expect from treatment.
- You may even want to seek a second opinion from another doctor to ensure youre satisfied with your treatment plan.
- Your care team will weigh the benefits of treatment with the potential side effects and how these may impact your health and well-being.
If the cancer has metastasized to one other siteparticularly the braina typical course of treatment may begin with surgery and radiation therapy to target the area where the cancer spread. Then, the focus shifts to the lung, where treatment may include some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation .
More often, though, cancers at this stage may be too widespread and require systemic treatments that attack the cancer throughout the body.
The first consideration in choosing a systemic treatment is whether there are specific genetic changes in the primary lung tumor that may be targeted. If so, targeted therapy drugs designed to act on these gene changes would likely be the first choice. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or both, also may be options.
How Can Exercise Help Reduce Cancer Fatigue
You may feel ill from your cancer or treatment, which may lead to less physical activity. Decreased levels of physical activity can lead to tiredness and lack of energy. Scientists have found that even healthy athletes forced to spend extended periods in bed or sitting in chairs develop feelings of anxiety, depression, weakness, fatigue and nausea. Regular, moderate exercise can decrease the feeling of fatigue and help you feel energetic. Even during cancer therapy, it’s often possible to continue to exercise. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.
Exercise has many health benefits. Regular exercise can:
- Increase your appetite.
Fatigue Isoften Treated By Relieving Relatedconditions
Treatment of fatigue depends on the symptoms and whether the cause of fatigue is known. When the cause of fatigue is not known, treatment is usually given to relieve symptoms and teach you ways to cope with fatigue.
Treatment of anemia
Anemia causes fatigue, so treating anemia when the cause of anemia is known, helps decrease fatigue. When the cause is not known, treatment for anemia is supportive care and may include the following:
- Change in diet
- Transfusions of red blood cells
Transfusions work well to treat anemia. Even though problems from a transfusion are low, there are risks of an allergic reaction, infection, graft-versus-host disease, immune system changes, and too much iron in the blood.
Drugs called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents cause the bone marrow to make more red blood cells and may be used to treat anemia-related fatigue in terminal patients receiving chemotherapy.Since ESAs increase the risk of blood clots, few patients are offered this treatment. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved these drugs for the treatment of fatigue. Discuss the risks and benefits of these drugs with your doctor.
Treatment of pain and depression
Patients Near Death May Not Respond To Others
Patients may withdraw and spend more time sleeping. They may answer questions slowly or not at all, seem confused, and may not be interested in what’s going on around them. Most patients are still able to hear after they are no longer able to speak. It may give some comfort if family members continue to touch and talk to the patient, even if the patient does not respond.
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Cancer Fatigue Is Different From Fatigue That Healthy People Feel
When a healthy person is tired from day-to-day activities, their fatigue can be relieved with sleep and rest. Cancer fatigue is different. People with cancer get tired after less activity than people who do not have cancer. Also, cancer fatigue is not completely relieved by sleep and rest, interferes with daily activities, and may last for a long time. Fatigue usually decreases after cancer treatment ends, but some people may still feel fatigue for months or years.
Stage 4 Lung Cancer: What To Expect
Stage 4 cancer of the lung is easily the most advanced stage of cancer of the lung. In stage 4, cancer has spread to both lung area, the region round the lung area, or distant organs.
The most typical kind of cancer of the lung is non-small cell cancer of the lung. Based on the American Cancer Society, about 13 % of lung cancers are small cell lung cancers, for aggressive and could spread rapidly.
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How Can I Combat Cancer Fatigue
The best way to combat fatigue is to treat the underlying cause. Unfortunately, the exact cause may be unknown, or there may be multiple causes. There are treatments to reduce certain causes of cancer fatigue, such as anemia or hypothyroidism. Other causes must be managed on an individual basis.
The following are tips you can use to combat cancer fatigue:
- Conserve energy.
- Manage your stress.
Can A Dietitian Help Me Fight Cancer Fatigue
Dietitians can provide suggestions to work around any symptoms that may be interfering with caloric intake. They can help you find ways to take in calories despite an early feeling of fullness, swallowing difficulty or taste changes. Dietitians can also suggest ways of maximizing calories and proteins in smaller amounts of food. They may suggest powdered milk, instant breakfast drinks and other commercial supplements or food additives.
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How The Lungs Work
The lungs are the largest organs in your body. Working with the rest of your respiratory system which includes the lungs, airway and diaphragm they are responsible for transporting oxygen into your body.
When you breathe in, you inhale oxygen through your nose and mouth. The oxygen travels down your windpipe, a strawlike structure thats also called a trachea, into two tubes, called bronchi, which attach to your lungs. Those tubes break off into a series of thin branches, called bronchioles, leading to tiny, balloonlike air sacs, called alveoli. These air sacs are covered with blood vessels that send the oxygen up to your heart, from where its dispersed throughout your body. When you breathe out, the whole process happens in reverse order, and what you exhale is carbon dioxide, a gas that rids your body of waste.
How To Cope With Late Stage Cancer
A diagnosis of late stage cancer affects a person mentally and emotionally.
People who are approaching the end of their lives may experience fear of dying. Identifying the specific element of death that is frightening and taking steps to address it may make the fear easier to cope with.
People with late stage cancer may also feel lonely, as if no one else around truly understands their experience. A person who feels this way should consider opening up to a healthcare professional who has experience talking with people who have late stage cancer. These doctors and nurses, for example, are likely to have a deeper understanding of the experience.
The American Cancer Society observe that regret is another common emotion toward the end of life. Stepping away from thinking about the past can be difficult. It can help to identify and focus on priorities in the present and write letters or make recordings for loved ones to treasure later on.
However having late stage cancer makes a person feel, speaking about these feelings with a trusted person can be both useful and comforting.
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What Are The Complications Of Cancer Fatigue
Persistent fatigue can interfere with your ability to participate in lifes activities. You may miss out on time with family and friends. It can affect your ability to concentrate and think clearly. Some people are too exhausted to continue working.
As many as 1 in 4 people with cancer develop depression. Sometimes, its hard to determine if fatigue leads to depression or vice versa.
How Does Exercise Impact Energy Level
Decreased physical activity, which may be the result of cancer or treatment, can contribute to tiredness and lack of energy. Scientists have found that even healthy athletes forced to spend extended periods in bed or sitting in chairs develop feelings of anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Regular, moderate exercise can decrease these feelings, help you stay active and increase your energy. Even during cancer therapy, it is often possible to continue exercising. In fact, research has shown that cancer patients who perform a moderate exercise routine have a better quality of life and may have better outcomes.
Here are some exercise guidelines to keep in mind if you have cancer:
- Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.A physical therapist can be helpful in planning a program for you.
- A good exercise program starts slowly, allowing your body time to adjust.
- Keep a regular exercise schedule.
- The right kind of exercise never makes you feel sore, stiff, or exhausted. If you experience soreness, stiffness, exhaustion, or feel out of breath as a result of your exercise, you are overdoing it.
- Most exercises are safe, as long as you exercise with caution and don’t overdo it. Among the safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, and low-impact aerobics . These activities carry little risk of injury and benefit your entire body.
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Fatigue And Quality Of Life
Fatigue has been identified as having a greater impact on quality of life among cancer patients than pain, depression, or nausea. Fatigue compromises physical functioning and the ability to perform activities of daily living, which can impact an individuals ability to work and create a significant financial burden. The stress of fatigue in the patient also increases the burden for caregivers and family members, who often work fewer hours to provide care and must pick up more of the daily household chores.1
Fatigue is linked with increased levels of depression, anxiety, and mood disturbance in people with cancer. These psychological symptoms can further impact a persons ability to participate in day-to-day life and may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of treatment.1