25th October 2020

Tired of being tired? Let your GP know

View all Early detection

As the days get shorter, the colder weather hits and the year draws to a close, many people can begin to feel more tired than usual; fatigued, even. Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall feeling of persistent tiredness and lack of energy. What some people don’t realise is that fatigue can also be a symptom of lung cancer. 

In a survey by the Global Lung Cancer Coalition, it was revealed that fatigue is one of the lesser known lung cancer symptoms, with only 10% of people in the UK recognising it as an indicator of the disease.

Lung cancer can be fast growing and spread quickly, so it is vital that any symptoms are checked out as soon as possible.

A person living with lung cancer may experience fatigue as their body will be under stress, working overtime and burning calories much quicker, leading to extreme exhaustion. Lung cancer can alter normal hormone levels in the body, resulting in a lack of energy.

If you are experiencing unexplained fatigue that is not relieved by sleep or rest, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

There could be many other reasons for feeling extremely tired or lacking in energy and, most of the time, it won’t be lung cancer. For some people like Stephen, it was.

Stephen was diagnosed with lung cancer aged just 46. His wife, Hannah, unfortunately knows all too well of the devastating impact that lung cancer can have. She never expected that she would be a widow at 47. She urges others to be aware of the signs of lung cancer.

“Stephen was such an active person, so it was strange when he began feeling really tired. As time moved on, I knew it was serious. His cough wouldn’t shift and then he was getting more and more tired – to the extent he could barely get out of bed in the morning.

“I wish I had trusted my instinct and challenged the doctor’s opinions. I’m urging others to do what I didn’t. If you are tired, really tired and there’s no real reason why. If you are just feeling unwell and out of sorts, then go to your doctor.

If you don’t, you could lose so much time, priceless time, with your loved ones. You could lose your life.”

Effects of fatigue

Persistent fatigue can significantly affect our quality of life and might affect us psychologically too. Lack of energy can lead to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and even depression.

If daily tasks such as getting out of bed, eating or even reaching for the remote control are becoming increasingly more difficult, you should contact your GP for an appointment. The sooner you are checked over, the sooner that you can get to the bottom of what is going on for you.

Fatigue is not something you should be putting up with, if you or a loved one are feeling this way, report the symptoms to your doctor as soon as possible.

Know all the signs and symptoms

Along with fatigue, other symptoms of lung cancer to look out for include:

•             Persistent cough

•             Shortness of breath

•             Chest pain

•             Shoulder pain

•             Repeat chest infections

•             Hoarseness

•             Weight loss

•             Wheezing

•             Finger clubbing

•             Loss of appetite

Don’t let the pandemic stop you or your loved ones from being diagnosed. If you are experiencing any lung cancer symptoms including fatigue, make an appointment with your GP. The sooner you can get to the bottom of the cause, the better. The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the better the prognosis.