Fatigue and pancreatic cancer
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is when you feel very very tired. Fatigue isn’t the same as just feeling tired. It can be draining, and resting or sleeping may not help you feel better.
Many people with pancreatic cancer have fatigue at some point. You might feel tired all or most of the time or you might feel very tired all of a sudden for no clear reason. You may feel weak, not able to concentrate, or have problems sleeping. It can stop you being able to do simple things.
Fatigue isn’t the same as just feeling tired. It can be draining, and resting or sleeping may not help you feel better.
What causes fatigue?
Many things can cause fatigue when you have pancreatic cancer, such as the cancer, symptoms or treatments.
- Problems with eating or diabetes can make fatigue worse.
- Symptoms like pain and being sick can also make fatigue worse.
- Fatigue can get worse when you are having treatment. It can also carry on for a few months after your treatment has finished.
- Some medicines, like opioid painkillers, can make you feel tired.
- Depression can be linked to fatigue in people with cancer.
- Any problems sleeping can also make your fatigue worse.
Sorting out these problems can help with fatigue, for example getting treatment for symptoms.
What can I do about fatigue?
Speak to your doctor or nurse – they will be able to help you if you have fatigue.
- There are things you can do to help yourself cope. You could keep a diary of when you have fatigue, how bad it is, and anything that makes it better or worse.
- Try to keep active. Gentle activity, may help you feel like you have more energy.
- You could try some complementary therapies. These are things like meditation, which might help you relax.
- Read more tips for dealing with fatigue.
“I don’t think people understand the difference between tiredness and fatigue. Tiredness is when you want to sleep but with fatigue you can’t do anything.”
“I’ve had tiredness before, I’ve had sleepless nights with my daughter, but it is a whole different level, a whole different ball game, utterly draining.”
Questions to ask your doctor or nurse
You might want to write down any questions you have for your doctor to take with you so that you don’t forget to ask them. You may also want to take someone with you when you see your doctor. They can write down the answers to any questions you have and any important information.
- What is causing my fatigue?
- Who can help me cope with fatigue?
- What can I do myself to help cope with fatigue?
- What support is there to help me cope?
Published October 2017
To be reviewed October 2019