It is common to feel very tired and lack energy during or after treatment. Fatigue for people with cancer is different from tiredness as it doesn’t always go away with rest or sleep. Most people who have chemotherapy start treatment before they have had time to fully recover from their operation.
Fatigue may continue for a while after chemotherapy has finished, but it is likely to gradually improve over time. In some cases, it may take a year or two to feel well again.
Tips for managing fatigue
- Plan your day. Set small, manageable goals and rest before you get too tired.
- Ask for and accept offers of help with tasks such as cleaning and shopping.
- Eat nutritious food to keep your energy levels up.
- Regular light exercise has been shown to reduce fatigue. Even a walk around the block can help.
- Talk to your doctor about what type of exercise would be suitable for you or ask for a referral to a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.
A/Prof Sam Saidi, Senior Staff Specialist, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; A/Prof Penny Blomfield, Gynaecological Oncologist, Hobart Women’s Specialists, and Chair, Australian Society of Gynaecologic Oncologists, TAS; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Gynaecological Cancer, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Sonja Kingston, Consumer; Clinical A/Prof Judy Kirk, Head, Familial Cancer Service, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, and Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Linda Mileshkin, Medical Oncologist and Clinical Researcher, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Deb Roffe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Support Team, Ovarian Cancer Australia; Emily Stevens, Gynaecology Oncology Nurse Coordinator, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Dr Amy Vassallo, Fussell Family Foundation Research Fellow, Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW; Merran Williams, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Life after cancer treatment
Webinars, exercise and nutrition, sexuality programs, and back-to-work support
Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, no interest loans and other assistance
Coping with cancer?
Talk with a health professional or someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Cancer treatment, constipation, diarrhoea and other bowel irritations
General information on managing these issues
Nutrition and cancer help for carers
Tips for preparing food for someone with cancer
View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends