A fever is when the body temperature is higher than normal—but what is normal may be different for everyone. Fever can be especially concerning for people undergoing cancer treatments because it may be a sign of infection. Many treatment therapies affect white blood cell counts, which are the body’s first line of defense against infections. The symptoms commonly associated with bacterial or viral infections are often the body’s own immune response, implemented by the white blood cells. If there are signs of a fever from cancer treatment while the white blood cell level is low, it should be addressed immediately, even if there are no other symptoms.
The best way to prevent fever is to prevent infection. Wash hands regularly, stay away from large crowds, and avoid sick people. To check for a fever, the temperature must be taken—the care team can advise on the best type of thermometer. If any symptoms arise, check temperatures every 2-3 hours and keep a record of the results. Call the care team to discuss whether or not the fever is emergent, and avoid taking any medication unless specifically directed by the provider.