Are night sweats a sign or a symptom of blood cancers?
First of all, let us define what are “night sweats”. Night sweats are episodes of excessive perspiration that occur while one is sleeping. Night sweats typically coincide with increased heart rates and high levels of sleep environment discomfort. People who experience night sweats report waking up with damp (or drenched) bed sheets, pillowcases, and pajamas. Night sweats can result from a variety of conditions, including some cancers, but can also be a side effect of cancer treatments.
Night sweats can be an early symptom of both leukemia and lymphoma, the most common blood cancers.
Unlike night sweats that are caused by hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, perimenopause, or menopause, which occur sporadically, those linked to cancer tend to be persistent. Both leukemia and lymphoma are among the blood cancers associated with night sweats. Coinciding symptoms include: fatigue, weight loss, or excessive bruising. Daytime fevers are also a sweat-related symptom of leukemia.
Here is a full list of leukemia signs and symptoms:
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Shortness of breath during physical activity
- Pale skin
- Fever or night sweats
- Slow healing of cuts and bruises
- Excess bleeding
- Unexplained bruising
- Pinhead sized red spots under the skin
- Aches in bones or joints (commonly in knees, hips, or shoulders)
- Low white blood cell counts, particularly monocytes or netrophils
Here is a full list of lymphoma signs and symptoms:
- Drenching night sweats
- Rapid or unexplained weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Itchy skin
What is the difference between a “sign” and a “symptom”?
- A sign is a change in the body that your doctor or healthcare professional sees in an exam or a test result. Common signs of disease or health issues such as viruses or infections include: changes in cholesterol or lipid panels, increases or decreases in white and red blood cell counts, protein detection in urine specimens, and many more.
- A symptom is a change in the body that a patient can see or feel. Common symptoms include: hormonal and body temperature changes, digestive changes, fatigue, and/or changes in the skin.
What is the difference between leukemia and lymphoma?
- Leukemia, also referred to as blood cancer, is a type of cancer which affects the production and function of blood cells.
- Lymphoma, also referred to as lymphatic cancer, is cancer of the lymphatic system of the body involving immune cells.
Why are leukemia and lymphoma always lumped together?
Leukemia and lymphoma are often lumped together because they have many overlapping concepts. Most cancers are solid, which means that a collection of mutated cells that multiply and grow into a “solid” tumor. The six most common types of cancers: lung, breast, colorectal, bladder, melanoma, and prostate, are solid.
The cancers that are not considered “solid” are often lumped together in the category of blood cancers. Among these are leukemia and lymphoma. While these two blood cancers share certain symptoms, there are some differences in their causes, characteristics, and treatments.
Both leukemia and lymphoma originate from issues with your white blood cells (leukocytes). Bone marrow is the body’s factory for these cells. Leukemia starts when your bone marrow generates a high number of mutated white blood cells that do not die off in the way that typical aging blood cells do. Instead, they keep multiplying and ultimately take over healthy red blood cells. This situation becomes problematic since your body depends on red blood cells for nutrient and oxygen transport. Like lymphoma, leukemia may also begin in the lymph nodes.
Why is Wicked Sheets, a “night sweats company”, interested in blood cancers?
A couple of reasons:
- Wicked Sheets has a long history of being involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. The first silent auction item that Wicked Sheets ever donated was to the “Light the Night” campaign in 2010.
- We know our customers. Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to be the bed sheet of choice for hundreds of our customers who are (or were) battling night sweats as a side effect of their respective blood cancers.
- CEO Alli sent one of her very first sets of Wicked Sheets to her friend at MD Anderson who was being treated with chemotherapy as a result of his lymphoma diagnosis. He was one of 4 beta customers who tried the product and completed surveys for Alli’s customer discovery before she launched the brand.
- The law firm where Wicked Sheets has been a client for over 14 years, has a young female attorney who is still practicing today after being the recipient of an LLS sponsored clinical trial. She is friends with Alli through the entrepreneurial community in Louisville.
- As a result of these close ties to those who have been affected by both night sweats and blood cancers, Alli is running for Man/Woman of the Year this year with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Every dollar that she raises in her campaign, “Put Cancer to Bed” will go towards clinical trials that will (hopefully) save more of her friends and family members who have been affected by this horrible disease.