Prostate Cancer & Fatigue in Older Men“I am a 47 year old, stage 2 prostate cancer survivor…and have bouts of fatigue. Doctors cannot figure it out and it is driving my wife crazy because I am tired most of the time. I try to exercise as much as possible and try to watch my diet, but I am still very tired.” - Client quote

Our Challenge

The quote above captures a very common barrier for men who are living with prostate cancer– fatigue.  Prostate cancer and cancer treatment can cause physical and emotional symptoms.  These changes can impact one’s ability to maintain life roles such as family activities, work and hobbies.  

A recent study published by Ben Langston in Supportive Care in Cancer found that “up to 74% of clients with prostate cancer reported fatigue that impacted quality of life.”

A second important study published by Digant Gupta found that “level of fatigue was a top predictor of mortality and overall quality of life for clients who are living with Prostate Cancer.”

So, to recognize National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we want to provide information, tools and resources that can help detect prostate cancer symptoms, help those who have already been diagnosed, prostate cancer survivors, and their family caregivers to understand and manage the fatigue that can come along with this disease.  

How to Detect Prostate Cancer

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation the following are just some prostate cancer symptoms:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination

If you’re experiencing any of the above you should contact your doctor immediately.

About Fatigue and Prostate Cancer

So, what is the difference between normal tiredness and cancer-related fatigue?  We all experience some level fatigue and exhaustion. Cancer-related fatigue is a more intense, debilitating fatigue that can impact quality of life.

The following checklist offers common signs of prostate cancer-related fatigue.  Place a check next to any symptoms of fatigue that you notice.

Prostate Cancer Fatigue Checklist

 Feeling like you have no energy

 Sleeping more than you normally do

 Not wanting to or being able to do your normal daily activities

 Paying less attention to the way you look

 Feeling tired even after you sleep

 Having trouble thinking or concentrating

 Having trouble finding words and speaking

It is important to share any signs of fatigue with your healthcare provider because fatigue can be triggered by medical issues such as infection or pain that can often be managed.

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Barriers to Recognizing and Treating Fatigue

The quote below from Dr. Andrea Cheville captures the challenge that healthcare providers face in recognizing and treating cancer-related fatigue.

“We found the vast majority of patients were not engaging in behavioral practices that could reduce fatigue and potentially enhance quality of life…and almost a third reported napping during the day, which can actually worsen fatigue.”

“We could be doing a much better job addressing fatigue, with more reliable instruction for patients and offering treatments that have been shown to work,”

The most common barriers to recognizing and treating cancer-related fatigue are:

  • Need for more accurate fatigue screening/assessment tools
  • Need for increased client/healthcare provider awareness related to the risk and impact of fatigue on quality of life and mortality
  • Clients feel their fatigue is normal and that they won’t benefit from treatment
  • Clients lack access to treatment and prostate cancer support
  • Family caregivers are also living with fatigue and need to take better care of themselves

Overcome Fatigue Action Plan

The following Action Plan can help you to recognize, discuss and treat cancer-related fatigue.  Share your Action Plan with your care team so you can get the support that you need. Key steps include:

We hope that this blog provides the information, tools, support and inspiration to work with your care team to recognize and overcome fatigue.  

Please use the comment bar below to share any other tools, resources or stories that you can share with us.


For more information, please review our Prostate Cancer Resources.