Hot flashes and night sweats may be side effects of cancer or its treatment. They can affect quality of life in patients with cancer.
Hot flashes and night sweats are more common in cancer survivors who are women, but men can get them too.
Hot flashes are sudden, temporary onsets of body warmth, flushing, and sweating (often associated with menopause). Hot flashes are also known as hot flushes. When combined with sweats that happen while sleeping, they are often called night sweats.
Signs and Symptoms
In addition to the sudden, intense, hot feeling on your face and upper body, hot flashes may be preceded or accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and sweating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, headache, weakness, or a feeling of like you can’t breathe. Hot flashes can occur suddenly, or you may feel them coming on.
If you experience night sweats, you may wake to find that you’ve soaked your nightclothes or bedding.
- In patients with cancer, hot flashes and sweating may be caused by the tumor, a side effect of cancer treatment, an infection, or other medical condition.
- Treatment for breast cancer may cause hot flashes and night sweats. Chemical menopause in women with cancer is caused by certain types of chemotherapy, radiation, or hormone therapy.
- Treatment for prostate cancer may cause hot flashes and night sweats in men. “Male menopause” in men with cancer can be caused by orchiectomy (surgery to remove one or both testicles) or hormone therapy.
- Certain drugs may cause night sweats, including hormone therapy used for breast cancer and prostate cancer, steroids, and certain medicines used for pain.
- Learn more.
A treatment plan to help manage hot flashes and night sweats is based on your condition and goals of care. For some patients, feeling better and improving quality of life is the most important goal. Certain drugs are available to treat hot flashes and night sweats. Other non-drug treatments are available, too.
- Sweats caused by fever are controlled by treating the cause of the fever. Sweats caused by a tumor are usually controlled by treatment of the tumor.
- Talk to your doctor about drug treatments for hot flashes. Learn more.
- Learn about the side effects of drug therapy, which may include nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, changes in appetite, constipation, and insomnia. Learn more.
Talk to your doctor about non-drug treatments available to help treat hot flashes and night sweats. These include hypnosis, comfort measures, herbs and dietary supplements, and acupuncture. Learn more.
Keep Track of Your Medications
It’s important to keep track of all the medications and supplements you are taking. This includes things like vitamins, herbs, or other supplements, drugs you take as needed, and medicines you get at the drug store. Use this medication chart to keep track of everything you’re taking.
For more detailed information on support options, visit Get Support.
Talk to Your Health Care Team
Your health care team needs to know how you’re doing. Be sure to tell them about any changes you notice.
Talk to Family and Friends
Your loved ones want to support you. They can help with activities like housework, running errands, and getting to appointments. Be as specific as possible about the kind of help you need.
Find Peer Support
Talk About Your Concerns
Peer groups offer a welcoming environment to share your feelings and experiences with people who are going through the same things. Use the American Cancer Society’s Resource Search to find a peer group in your area or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for personalized assistance.
Visit the Cancer Survivors Network Online
The Cancer Survivors Network is an online community with more than 40 discussion boards where cancer survivors share their cancer-related experiences, support one another, and exchange practical tips.
NCI Cancer Information Service
Speak to a National Cancer Institute health information specialist by calling 1-800-4-Cancer.
The National Cancer Institute offers live, online assistance through its LiveHelp service.
ACS National Cancer Information Center
Get information and tips from a cancer information specialist at the American Cancer Society by calling 1-800-227-2345. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The American Cancer Society offers live, online assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Select the Live Chat option from any page on cancer.org.
Learn More About Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
The National Cancer Institute has resources to help you, including hot flashes and night sweats.