Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive type of cancer that occurs in the mesothelial cells. These cells gather around the organs to keep them moist, composing a membrane known as the mesothelium. Due to asbestos exposure, the mesothelial cells become irritated, causing the formation of tumors. Asbestos is a natural mineral that was widely used in industries like construction, shipbuilding and manufacturing. It was woven and mixed with cement for over 100 years, but during the 20th century, it was proven to be toxic. If left untouched, asbestos can be harmless, but when disturbed, asbestos fibers are released into the air.
These fibers can be inhaled or swallowed and cannot be expelled from the body. When it affects the lungs, it is known as pleural mesothelioma, while peritoneal mesothelioma occurs when the disease occurs in the abdomen; pericardial mesothelioma is when the disease affects the heart; and testicular mesothelioma is when the disease affects the tunica vaginalis testis. While each form of the disease causes different symptoms, there are symptoms shared by nearly all patients with mesothelioma, including dry cough or wheezing, shortness of breath, respiratory complications, chest or abdomen pain, pleural effusions, anemia, muscle weakness and night sweats or fever.
How Night Sweats or Fever Affect Patients with Mesothelioma
According to the American Cancer Society: “Fever is a body temperature of 100.5° F or higher (when taken by mouth) that most often goes up and down over the course of a day. Fever is usually caused by an infection. Other causes of fever include inflammatory illness, drug reactions, or tumor growth. Sometimes, the cause may not be known. In an infection, the fever is a result of the body heating up to try to fight invading germs. Fever is an important natural defense against germs. People getting chemo are more likely to have infections because they have lower numbers of the white blood cells needed to fight them.”
Patients with pleural, peritoneal, pericardial or testicular mesothelioma can experience night sweats or fever, regardless the stage of the disease. However, it is usually more common and severe in stages III or IV mesothelioma. Fever consists not only of increased skin temperature, but also tiredness, headaches, cold and shaking chills, body aches, skin rashes, redness or swelling, pus or yellowish discharge, cough or shortness of breath, belly pain, burning or pain while urinating, and sore throat.
Management of Night Sweats or Fever by Mesothelioma Patients
There is no cure for mesothelioma, but there are treatments that can help ease symptoms like fever. Surgery, chemotherapy and / or radiation therapy are treatment options, while there are also specific recommendations regarding each symptom. According to the ACS, patients should check their temperature using a thermometer every two to three hours if they are feeling warm or cold. Keeping a record of temperature reading can help control the symptom, while drinking plenty of liquids including water, fruit juices, popsicles or soups (but not alcohol) can decrease the fever. Getting enough rest, placing a cold compress on the forehead and taking acetaminophen may also help.
In addition, caregivers should pay attention to shaking chills and temperature. Other things that caregivers can do to help include offering extra fluids and snacks, helping taking the medication on schedule, helping prevent fevers and infections by encouraging other people who want to visit but experience fever, diarrhea, cough, or flu themselves to visit only by phone. However, it is important that patients consult with their oncologist in the case of confusion, when the temperature rises to 100.5° F or more, there is an exacerbation of the symptoms, the fever lasts over a day, there are shaking chills or when the patient is unable to take fluids.
Note: Mesothelioma Research News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.