‘Heavy’ night sweats could signal 7 types of cancer

Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

It is thought around one in two people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. While there are specific symptoms linked to certain types of the disease, such as a lump in the chest signalling breast cancer, others are more general. This can make them easy to misdiagnose.

According to Cancer Research UK, experiencing “heavy” night sweats or fever is one of the “general” symptoms of cancer to look out for.

This can be caused directly by the disease itself or a number of other, linked, reasons such as medication, infection and hormonal changes.

The charity explains: “Sweating at night or having a high temperature (fever) can be caused by infections or a side effect of certain medications.

“It’s also often experienced by women around the time of the menopause.”

However, it warns: “But speak to your doctor if you have very heavy, drenching night sweats, or an unexplained fever.”

There are seven types of cancer that can cause you to sweat more than usual.

These are:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Carcinoid tumours
  • Leukaemia
  • Mesothelioma
  • Bone cancer
  • Liver cancer.


Infection is one of the most common causes of sweating for cancer patients.

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Cancer Research UK says: “Infection can give you a high temperature and your body sweats to try and reduce it.

“Treating the infection can control or stop the sweating.”


Hot flushes and sweating can be brought on by changes to your hormone levels.

“Your hormone levels may change because of the cancer itself, or because of treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy,” Cancer Research says.

“Treatment for breast cancer can put women into an early menopause. For some women, this causes hot flushes and sweats.

“Women who have already had their menopause can have hot flushes again when they start hormone treatment.

“Men can have hot flushes and sweating when they have hormone treatment for prostate cancer or breast cancer, because it reduces the amount of testosterone in the body.

“Recent research is helping us to understand why changes in sex hormone levels cause hot flushes and sweats. This is needed in order to find better treatment for these symptoms.”


The charity adds: “Sweating and hot flushes can be a side effect of some drug treatments, including chemotherapy and morphine.”

Other general cancer symptoms to look out for include:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Unexplained pain or ache
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual lump or swelling anywhere.

If you experience night sweats and are concerned you could have cancer you should speak to your GP.

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