Cancer destroys every healthy cell in your body. Frequent fever or a rise in your body temperature is a sign that a tumor is invading nearby tissue and cancer is spreading fast. Also known as pyrexia, it is a common reaction to infection or illness. Read on to know what to do when you have frequent fevers as a cancer patient.

Authored by: Ashima Sharda Mahindra

New Delhi: If you do not suffer from cancer, fever is a sign of defence that your body is fighting against infection. Usually, fever is not of much concern unless the temperature shoots up really high.

However, things are really different when you have cancer, and as these cells spread quickly, the immune system keeps getting weaker by the day. As you keep losing immunity, you are prone to frequent fever attacks, also known as Pyrexia.

According to UK-based Cancer Research in most cancer patients, fever is a sign that cancer has spread all over and is at an advanced stage. Studies also indicate that the symptoms are more common in blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.

However, common cancers like breast cancer, lung cancer, and bowel cancer are less likely to cause any fever. But if the tumour spreads to the liver, you may get slightly under the weather.

Health experts believe that it may also indicate that cancer is causing a blockage somewhere in the body.

What exactly causes fever in cancer?
Doctors say cancer fevers often rise and fall during the day, and sometimes they peak at the same time.

A progressing tumour, according to doctors causes infections that produce pyrogens, that enter the body through outside sources like bacteria, viruses, fungi, drugs, and toxins. The cells of your immune system like cytokines can also build pyrogens.

Pyrogens also hinder the functioning of the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls body temperature. The hypothalamus is connected to various other areas of the body like the nervous system, endocrine system, skin, muscles, and sweat glands to help boost processes that take place without us thinking about them, such as blood pressure, breathing, heartbeat, regulation of body fluids, salt concentration and body temperature.

When you are undergoing cancer treatment, a fever may destroy white blood cells and weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to inflammation and infection. Even prescribed medications like steroids and morphine can cause fever.

How to cope with a fever?
According to health experts, if you feel your body temperature is going high (normal body temperature is 98.6° F (36° C), take the following steps before reaching out to the doctor:

  • Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or any fever-reducing analgesic medicine without consulting the doctor.
  • Drink a lot of water. Avoid drinking coffee, tea, or any caffeinated product and alcohol.
  • Take adequate rest
  • Put a cold cloth or ice bag on your head or take bath with cold water to reduce temperature.
  • Eat nutritious food which includes fruits and vegetables that have vitamins and antioxidants.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.