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Just Diagnosed with Cancer? Chat with Experts

Sunday, November 09, 2008 Shyrl, Community Member, asks

Q: Does having breast cancer cause my increased fatigue? I've yet to begin treatment.

The past 2 months I've been SO fatigued.  Last week I was diagnosed with breast cancer (infiltrating ductal carcinoma).  Could the cancer be the cause of my increased fatigue?

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Answers (4)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/ 9/08 10:22pm

Hi Shyrl: I doubt cancer is the cause of your fatigue. Breast cancerr comes on so slowly and silently, it doesn't usually announce itself with any symptom other than feeling a lump. Maybe you have some other underlying illness going on as well? I'd mention this to the oncologist when you meet, see what (s)he says. And stay in touch here, as you go through treatment. Start by reading our IDC FAQS - I think you'll find them informative. Good luck - PJH

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COCOAIS, Community Member
6/20/09 8:34am

I was extraordinarily fatigued for months before discovering a breast lump also.

It didn't matter if I stayed in bed all day, I never seemed to have energy.

 

I often see doctors refute the notion that breast cancer and fatigue are linked. I can honestly say however, that since my lumpectomy, I feel 1000X better than I have in MONTHS. I'm sure that will dissapear when I start chemo. Cry

Unless someone has been in your position, they can't tell you how YOU feel. If you feel better after your lumpectomy, I might draw a corallary.

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threefifteenam, Community Member
3/ 4/10 2:58pm

I've had a similar experience...a slight, but noticable fatigue for several months, e.g. needed 6-8 hours sleep vs. 5-6 on average previously. Was diagnosed w/ breast cancer a month ago. I read somewhere that the cancer cells leach nutrients from your system, plus they can release a substance (cykotines??) that cause fatigue. I think it makes intuitive sense that, as your body tries to fight/control the cancer, your feel fatigued. Again, with me, nothing dramatic...but noticable.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
3/ 4/10 4:33pm

I htink the emotional impact of cancer is very fatiguing, too. I remember being SO tired after I was diagnosed... PJH

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trina, Community Member
6/29/11 2:09pm

I'm waiting for a biopsy but have had fatigue for the past few months and need so much more sleep.  I'm hoping I don't have breast cancer but can't explain this continuous fatigue.  I had endometrial cancer 3 years ago and had fatigue back then too.

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
6/29/11 2:58pm

I hope you get a good report from your biopsy.  I wouldn't assume that the fatigue is a sign that you have cancer.  PJ's comment about the stress causing fatigue is right on.  There might be a connection between fatigue and cancer, but fatigue in and of itself is not a breast cancer symptom.  Most biopsies are not cancer, so hang on to that hope for now.

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trina, Community Member
6/29/11 3:08pm

Thank you for your reply.  I've had fatigue for a few months; perhaps its menopause related as I have night sweats too; I don't have the energy I used to have......when I had cancer in the past fatigue was one of my symptoms.  I know fatigue is not listed as a symptom of breast cancer, but something has to be causing my lack of energy and fatigue.  I'm 43, used to run 1/2 marathons, bike, hit the gym and yoga.......a walk is all I do now.....I'll have to wait and see what the results of the biopsy say.....thanks!

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
6/29/11 3:19pm

Be sure to mention the fatigue to your doctor and use the details you just explained here to make the dramatic change clear.  There may be some other underlying health issue that needs checking out.

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trina, Community Member
11/12/11 12:51am

I'm back on this site again, same issue......I got a call in July and was relieved to hear the results of my biopsy were benign.  However, I got called back 3 months later for a 2nd stereotactic biopsy.......there was not enough of breast tissue in the first to make a definite diagnosis.  So, here I am again, waiting to hear the results.  I have a cluster of suspicious calcifications.  I would not dream of thinking  I have cancer only for the unrelenting fatigue I'm going thru.  I've searched so many sites and find no reference (omitting to a few blogs) of fatigue and breast cancer.  I'm so, so tired for the past year......I'll know my results next Tuesday.......

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/12/11 5:33am

Trina, fatigue isn't a typical breast cancer symptom. The only connection may be that fatigue can compromise your immune system (as can stress); and an underlying cancer, one that may have been growing quietly for years, may suddenly grow a bit more quickly. So, rather than fatigue being a cancer symptom, it may be an environment in which cancer is more easily able to grow. I hope you hear good news on Tuesday - PJH

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trina, Community Member
11/12/11 1:02pm

Thanks PJ.....I had endometrial cancer 5 years ago and had fatigue prior to diagnosis.  If endo was to return, it wouldn't be in the breast, right?......After I get my results on Tuesday, I'm going to ask what tests can be done to find the answer to my fatigue.  A year ago I was full of energy......I have swollen glands in my neck, I have a goiter, but thyroid is fine....I really need to get blood work done....any other suggestions besides a CBC?  Thank you so much for your reply:)  I'm not going to worry about the microcalcs......85% are benign....so I'm putting it out of my mind till I get the call.....

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/12/11 6:06pm

Trina, endometrial cancer can't metastasize and turn into breast cancer, so please don't worry about that. We're not doctors here, so I really can't suggest any diagnostic screening; your oncologist is the best one for that. I'm glad you're going to try to put this out of your mind, hard as it is; worry accomplishes nothing except to make us feel bad! So, best of luck, and I hope you get an all clear this week- PJH

 

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trina, Community Member
11/18/11 6:38pm

PJ, just letting you know I got the results b9......I was told there was a wart there....do you have any info on that.  I go back for next mammo June next year.  I'm so, so relieved.  Thank you for your reassuring words.  Do women go thru this again?  If yes, I hope next time, I won't be so anxious waiting for the results.  PMS and waiting for news are not a good combo.

 

Bless you for all you do.

 

Trina

 

 

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/18/11 8:48pm

Trina, I'm a bit confused - where's the wart? At any rate, I'm glad you got good news. Yes, it's always scary when you're waiting for biopsy results. But now you've been through it, if you have to do it again - always remember, the vast majority of biopsies are precautionary, and the results are negative. So the odds will always be in your favor. Take care- PJH

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trina, Community Member
11/12/11 12:54am

Hi, just wondering how you are?  Did you come to the conclusion that BC did cause your fatigue.  I'm currently waiting on results of a biopsy......

 

Hope you're well and recovered:)

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By Shyrl, Community Member— Last Modified: 03/18/14, First Published: 11/09/08