Ovarian cancer fatigue can make you feel tired, exhausted, drained and can affect your daily life. This type of fatigue is generally a side effect of your cancer treatments or a symptom of the cancer.
Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in people with ovarian cancer. One qualitative study in a 2015 paper by researchers from the University of Texas found at least 93 percent of ovarian cancer patients report fatigue, with at least 20 percent reporting severe levels of fatigue.
Another 2015 study out of Bergen, Norway, found cancer fatigue was reported by at least 53 percent of women treated for gynecological cancers and patients with fatigue reported higher levels of anxiety and depression. There was also a connection between fatigue and life quality.
Culprits of Fatigue
Fatigue can be the result of your body working to repair damage, a medication side effect, or a symptom of some of the side effects of treatment, including anemia, pain, mood changes, and sleep issues. It may also result from poor nutrition habits due to appetite changes and weight loss.
The Actual Cancer
Ovarian cancer can increase your body’s need for energy, cause muscle weakness and organ damage, and affect your body’s hormones, which all lead to increased fatigue.
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation all cause fatigue. Surgery requires recovery and chemotherapy and radiation destroy healthy cells in addition to cancer cells. A side effect of both chemotherapy and radiation is fatigue.
You may develop anemia because cancer treatments destroy healthy red blood cells. In addition to fatigue, anemia also causes fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, breathing troubles, dizziness, and pale skin.
The prevalence of anemia in cancer patients is up 40 percent and the risk of anemia increases as chemotherapy progresses according to a 2010 report published in the Annals of Oncology.
If you are struggling to sleep at night or waking up often, you will likely experience fatigue during the daytime. Sleep disturbances are common and persistent in women who have ovarian cancer and can lead to depression and reduced quality of life according to researchers out of the University of Iowa. Likewise, 72 percent of cancer patients report sleep disturbances, not feeling rested in the morning, and daytime fatigue.
When you have cancer, changes in your appetite can lead to poor nutrition, resulting in fatigue. Your body may not process nutrients like it used to, resulting in deficiencies which also cause fatigue.
Fatigue is a symptom of anxiety, depression, and stress. Being diagnosed cancer and undergoing harsh treatments can affect your mental wellbeing.
Ovarian cancer pain results when a tumor starts to put pressure on organs, nerves, muscles, and/or bones. Treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, can cause pain and burning. Being in pain all the time is tiring.
Cancer pain can make it difficult to be active, eat healthy, and sleep well and can cause depression, all of which contribute to fatigue.