Fever refers to having a body temperature that is higher than the normal of 37.4 degree celcius, indicating that something is wrong within the body. It is common for people with cancer to develop fever, due to a number of reasons.
Causes of Fevers
What you need to look out for
How it can be treated
The treatment for fever will depend on what is causing it. For instance, fever caused by infections will be treated by antibiotics, antiviral or antifungal medications, depending on the type of germ found in your body. To manage fever caused by the body’s reaction to blood transfusion, your nurse will stop your blood transfusion and give you some medications to curb the reaction.
To determine the cause of your fever, your doctor will ask you a series of questions such as when the fever started, any associated symptoms and medications you are currently taking. Your doctor will also examine you and may order tests (e.g. x-rays, blood tests) to establish the exact cause or find out if there are any complications. To bring down your temperature and relieve your discomfort, you may be given paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory medication to take regularly until the fever goes away. If your white cell counts are low, your doctor may also prescribe you with growth factor drugs to increase your white cell counts to fight infection.
What you can do
Having a fever can be uncomfortable and worrying, and it is important to
inform your doctor or care team early if you develop one, so that he or she can determine the cause and give you appropriate treatment early. Even a low grade fever may lead to more serious complications if left untreated, so
do not wait for other signs before you seek medical attention.
Below are some tips you may find helpful in preventing infections and managing fever, especially if you are undergoing treatment for your cancer:
When to call your cancer care team
Please inform your doctor or nurse if:
The below indicates possible severe infection, a MEDICAL EMERGENCY which requires IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION, especially if you are undergoing cancer treatment: please go to your nearest hospital as soon as possible. Delayed treatment may result in serious or even life-threatening complications from infection:
If you have any questions regarding the above, please call Cancer Helpline at +65 6225 5655 or approach your doctor or nurse for further details.
The above contents have been approved by the Cancer Education Information Service, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), for people with cancer and their families and caregivers.
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