Fatigue a long-term effect of surgery?


Question from BLoth: I had seven surgeries for breast cancer. I didn't have any infections or problems, but I still get very tired. Last surgery was 2/07 and last chemo was 12/05. Is tiredness is a long-term effect from the surgeries and treatments? I exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, and take vitamins and supplements as directed by my nutritionist, who is an M.D.
Answers - Kristin Brill, M.D., F.A.C.S. We shouldn't underestimate the degree of long-term effects of surgery. For many women, especially after multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, fatigue is an issue even years later. One important point would be to try to discern between treatment fatigue related to surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, and lack of energy that may be more emotional or related to depression or more psychological issues. Sitting and talking with your medical oncologist may shed some light on the fatigue as well as evaluation using blood work and other tools or tests.
Linda Miller There's a lot of evidence that suggests that fatigue is the number one complaint of cancer patients. This fatigue can last for years following chemotherapy. The current research suggests that exercise, which is what you're doing now, is probably one of the best ways to combat cancer fatigue. As Dr. Brill said, blood levels are affected by chemotherapy and may take months to return to a close to normal baseline.

On Wednesday, May 21, 2008, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called After Surgery: Short-term and Long-term Effects. Kristin Brill, M.D., F.A.C.S. and Linda Miller, P.T. answered your questions about short-term and long-term side effects of breast surgery, and what you can do about them.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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