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Experiencing night sweats which interfere with sleep. Is there anything that might help?

Ask the Doctor Question:

My daughter is newly diagnosed with CLL (age 46). She is experiencing night sweats which interfere with her sleep. Is there anything that might help her?

Answer: Part of the reason for night sweats when you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia is because the body turns up its internal thermostat to fight the cancer. It is somewhat of the same as an inflammatory response when your body is trying to fight off a virus. Night sweats are one of the common complications of CLL. Although the exact mechanism by which these occur is unknown, there is suspicion that the cancer cells release certain hormones, only during sleep, that cause patients to sweat. Because it is unknown exactly why this happens, it is hard to target the symptom with any known medicine. Finding relief can be a challenge. But the obvious method is to treat the CLL directly.

If she hasn’t already, she needs to talk to her CLL specialist about the night sweats asap. We are not aware of her particular medical situation or have full access to her lab results, but night sweats occurring for greater than one month with no infection present can be considered a concerning “B symptom” in CLL. She needs to report this to her healthcare team asap, as persistent night sweats may indicate it is time for treatment to begin. Here is an article you might find helpful that talks about night sweats and starting treatment: https://cllsociety.org/2016/03/cll-watch-wait-start-treatment/