With more than 200 types of cancer out there, it can be daunting to think of which symptoms you need to watch out for. However, the earlier we recognize the warning signs, the better.
Detecting cancer early can save lives, but it can be difficult to know what to look for. Some signs of cancer can be more general - such as weight loss and fatigue. In other cases, symptoms can affect specific parts of the body, like the skin. Other common warning signs include lumps, unexplained bleeding, or swelling over time.
However, one lesser-known symptom of cancer is one that is less obvious — and can be noticed on your sheets and pillows every morning — night sweats. Night sweats can be a cancer warning sign that is often overlooked, especially in the summer.
Experts recommend checking your bedding in the morning to see if you experienced excessive sweating while sleeping. If so, your sheets and pillows will likely be so saturated that it will be noticeable in the morning.
What could be the causes of excessive night sweats?
It is important to note that there are many reasons for sweating at night, and the medical literature includes diverse reasons for such sweating, such as various infections (bacterial and viral), reactions to drugs or other substances (such as cocaine or opioids), hormonal disorders (such as thyroid function and low blood sugar), many malignant diseases and even neurological diseases.
There aren't many comprehensive medical studies that have looked at what percentage of night sweats represent a significant problem and how many are for benign causes, but those that have been conducted have shown that most of the time there is no cause for concern.
A study published in 2010 found that patients aged 65 and over who reported night sweats were not found to have an increased risk of mortality within seven years of follow-up, compared to those who did not report night sweats. The study included 1,534 patients and was conducted by researchers from Oklahoma.
Certain cancers can also make you sweat more than usual, these include:
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Carcinoid tumors (carcinoids)
- Bone cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Advanced medullary thyroid cancer