Everyone describes it a bit differently. Some men say they are dog-tired, drained or weary all the time. Others say that are completely knackered and exhausted most of the day.
The key difference is that fatigue goes beyond occasional tiredness. It’s like your energy has been completely zapped — making it harder to sleep, work, hang out with friends and family, and get on with everyday life. It's not usually the kind of sleepiness that you can push through by getting a good night of sleep, or with a cup of coffee. This feeling of being drained can linger for a long time, sometimes even months or years. Simply just being tired, on the other hand, usually goes away after resting up a bit.
People describe this type of fatigue as ‘whole-body tiredness’.
How common is it?
Almost everyone diagnosed with cancer experiences fatigue, as cancer itself is a lot on the body. Fatigue is so common, that about 3 in 4 men with prostate cancer go through it.
What causes it?
It’s tricky, because a number of things can bring on fatigue. With prostate cancer, it’s common to feel quite worn down due to:
not having enough sleep or rest
eating poorly and not getting the right amount of exercise
stress, anxiety or depression
aches and pains from treatment
your type of radiation therapy
Take time to listen to your body and better understand where your exhaustion may be coming from. Work with your care team to understand what you can expect, and how to best manage your energy supply going forward.
Both types of radiation therapy (external beam radiation and brachytherapy) can cause fatigue. Those tired and drained feelings can start while you’re getting therapy, but sometimes they don't happen until afterwards. Some men find it lasts for weeks, but it can go on for months.
What can you do to
pump up your energy?
Eating well before, during and after treatment is key. Keeping active with an exercise program could also help your energy levels improve more quickly. To help you get going, talk to your team about having a nutrition and workout plan created that will work just for you.