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Anemia is a condition that can make you feel very tired, short of breath, and lightheaded. Other signs of anemia may include feeling dizzy or faint, headaches, a fast heartbeat, and/or pale skin.

Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as cancers that affect the bone marrow, can cause anemia. When you are anemic, your body does not have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells are the cells that that carry oxygen from the lungs throughout your body to help it work properly. You will have blood tests to check for anemia. Treatment for anemia is also based on your symptoms and on what is causing the anemia.

Ways to Manage

Here are some steps you can take if you have fatigue caused by anemia:

Save your energy and ask for help. Choose the most important things to do each day. When people offer to help, let them do so. They can take you to the doctor, make meals, or do other things you are too tired to do.
Balance rest with activity. Take short naps during the day, but keep in mind that too much bed rest can make you feel weak. You may feel better if you take short walks or exercise a little every day.
Eat and drink well. Talk with your doctor, nurse, or a registered dietitian to learn what foods and drinks are best for you. You may need to eat foods that are high in protein or iron.

Learn more about ways to manage fatigue caused by anemia during chemotherapy.

Talking With Your Health Care Team

Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:

What is causing the anemia?
What problems should I call you about?
What steps can I take to feel better?
Would medicine, iron pills, a blood transfusion, or other treatments help me?
Would you give me the name of a registered dietitian who could also give me advice?


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