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The cancer itself

We don't really understand why certain tumours cause fevers and others don't. Some tumours may produce toxins that cause fever.

Cancers that cause fever

Fever caused by your cancer might come on in cycles. This means your temperature rises at the same time each day. You may have days or weeks when you don't have a temperature and then the fever starts again.

This type of fever can be very frustrating and uncomfortable. The cancers most likely to cause fevers are:

  • non Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • acute leukaemia
  • kidney cancer (renal cell cancer)
  • liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)
  • bone cancer
  • adrenal gland tumours such as phaeochromocytomas
  • tumours in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus

Your doctors might not be able to find any reason for your fever. Some types of non Hodgkin lymphoma cause night sweats and high temperatures that come and go with no obvious cause. This symptom often plays a part in helping doctors decide which type of non Hodgkin lymphoma you have.

Cancers that don't often cause fever

The most common types of cancer, such as breast cancer, lung cancer and bowel cancer, do not generally cause fever. But they may do if:

  • the cancer has spread to the liver
  • the tumour is causing an obstruction or blockage somewhere in your body

Treating fever

There are a number of treatments available to help you with a fever.

Last reviewed: 
21 Jun 2017
  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser 
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • Cancer: Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    VT DeVita and others
    Lipincott Williams and Wilkins, 2015

  • Neutropenic sepsis: prevention and management of neutropenic sepsis in cancer patients

    National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), September 2012

Information and help

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