ZocdocAnswersAre recurring fevers a sign of cancer?

Question

Are recurring fevers a sign of cancer?

I'm sure this question sounds paranoid, but could multiple, inexplicable fevers be a sign of cancer? I have cancer in my family on both sides, so I want to do everything I can to catch it early. I'm healthy, except for a handful of mysterious fevers I've run over the past year, with no other symptoms. So could that be cancer?

Answer

Recurring fevers can be a sign of serious underlying disease. If you have recurrent of persistent fevers, you should be evaluated by your primary care physician, an infectious disease specialist, or a rheumatologist. There are three main categories of disease that cause recurring fevers. The first group of diseases are the inflammatory diseases. This group of conditions includes diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as conditions that mainly affect the intestines, like crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The second major category of diseases that causes recurrent fevers are infections. There are many infections that cause persistent fevers. Some of the more common ones include, HIV, tuberculosis, bone infections, and infections of the heart valves. Finally, the third major category of persistent fevers is cancer. Nearly any type of cancer can cause recurrent fevers, however, some of the more common causes are blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma, as well as cancers of the kidney, colon, lung, and breast. Persistent or recurring fevers often herald an important medical disease, particularly if they are associated with weight loss, night sweats, chronic cough, or illness. Recurrent fevers should prompt an evaluation by your internist who will refer you to the proper specialist as needed.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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