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Prostate cancer treatment and fatigue

Being tired or fatigued during and after treatment is a common side effect of many prostate cancer treatments. Fatigue can also challenge your motivation to do everyday tasks, your emotional wellbeing and your sleep, which in turn can affect your energy levels. 

Reasons for feeling tired during and after prostate cancer treatment, include: 

If you have any concerns about your fatigue, talk to your doctor, a member of your healthcare team or reach out to a PCFA nurse on 1800 22 00 99.

What treatments cause fatigue?

Many individual or combined treatments can make you feel tired or fatigued. 

Follow the links below to see an overview of the side effects that you may experience with or after each specific treatment.

Hormone therapy side effects

Chemotherapy side effects

Radiation therapy side effects

Surgery side effects

Theranostics side effects

In hormone therapy, fatigue can range from mild to very significant, depending on your circumstances. It may have a significant impact on your everyday life, or you may have no problems at all.  You can also experience different levels of fatigue throughout the course of your treatment. 

Chemotherapy and theranostics may cause temporary damage to your bone marrow. Your bone marrow makes new blood cells. This damage may reduce your levels of red blood cells and cause anaemia, making you feel very tired and weak. 

Travelling to and from treatments (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) can make you even more tired. 

Additionally, bladder problems after surgery or radiation therapy may mean you have to get up for the toilet during the night, and this can make you feel very tired. It is also normal to feel fatigued after having surgery. 

Once you have finished treatment your energy levels will most likely return to normal after some time. Until then, there are several ways you can manage your fatigue. 

How do you manage fatigue?

A fatigue management plan can help you to cope. Ask your healthcare team about the possible causes of fatigue, how to better manage it and how they can help you to make a plan. 

A plan might involve: 

  • Getting plenty of rest during the day by having regular breaks
  • Adjusting your activities so you do important things when you have the most energy
  • Doing some light exercise each day to give you more energy and help you to cope with your treatment
  • Asking for and accepting help so you don’t have to do everything yourself 
  • Planning and prioritising tasks so you only do the things that are necessary 
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet to help you feel less tired 
  • Checking on your iron and vitamin B12 levels to see if you have anaemia. If necessary, your healthcare team may discuss iron and vitamin B12 supplements and/or refer you to a dietitian for an eating plan that is rich in these nutrients
  • If the fatigue is affecting your mood, your GP or healthcare team may refer you to a counsellor or psychologist  
  • Discussing any medications you are on with your healthcare team, as some medications cause fatigue more than others. Changing your medications may help but never stop taking your medications without medical advice. 
  • Having a regular bedtime routine – go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning

If you are having trouble sleeping:

  • Start bedtime habits like writing in your diary, listening to music or taking a bath
  • Take time to relax before going to bed
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake 
  • Do some physical exercise during the day
  • Do not go to bed hungry

Many diet and lifestyle factors can help with fatigue and keep you healthy during treatment, such as food choices and exercise. You may also need to support your mental wellbeing. You can find out more through the following links:  

Healthy Diet & Lifestyle

Physical Activity 

Psychological Wellbeing

If you are not managing your energy levels, contact your doctor or a member of your healthcare team. You can also call a PCFA nurse on 1800 22 00 99 to discuss resources or support that are available to you. 

Key Points

  • Having or being treated for prostate cancer may cause fatigue or tiredness
  • There are many reasons for feeling tired during and after prostate cancer treatment
  • Side-effects of treatment may cause fatigue, as can mood changes, sleep issues, or dietary and lifestyle choices
  • Individual or combined treatments can cause varying levels of fatigue
  • There are many ways to manage your fatigue, including medicaton changes, adjustments to your diet, lifestyle and physical activity, along with emotional support
  • Your doctor, a member of your healthcare team or a Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse can provide you with support and/or resources to help you manage your energy levels