Why Do MPNs Cause Night Sweats?

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Topics include: Understanding

At Patient Power's 2016 town meeting at Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, Dr. Srdan Verstovsek explains why MPNs cause night sweats. Dr. Verstovsek discusses the reason symptoms are associated with this systemic disease and how doctors try to counteract those symptoms, including targeting inflammation and cell growth.

This town meeting was sponsored by Incyte Corporation. It was produced by Patient Power in partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Cancer Institute. 

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

So we talked about fatigue, which is a big one. It keeps coming up in our sessions. But, Dr. Verstovsek, you rattled off a bunch of others, like night sweats. Why do you have night sweats? Where does that come from, and what do you do about?

Dr. Verstovsek: 

Nights sweats and a number of others, like a low-grade fever, aches and pains, generalized weakness, itching, are systemic symptoms that are related to the disease. We are talking about systemic diseases. They’re only present in the bone marrow, but bone marrow is present in big bones. So, therefore, we call these diseases of the blood and bone marrow that affect the whole body.

It’s not only that these diseases affect the production of the cells—too many cells or too few—but they also provide a degree of inflammation to a body. These are inflammatory conditions, myelofibrosis in particular, that causes what we are talking about here—fevers, not feeling well, fatigue, night sweating, low-grade fevers, bone aches and pains, and eventually, weight loss. Weight loss is one of the cardinal features of advanced disease. The body energy is taken up by the disease that is utilizing this for the growth of the cells and for all the other activities that lead to inflammation in the bone marrow and in the body.

So, targeting the growth of the cells and providing anti-inflammatory medications—and you know that we used to do a lot of therapies with steroids. That is an anti-inflammatory medication to make people feel better.

In fact, we call this prednisone (Deltasone)—which is a pill, steroids—“feel-good” medication, because that was the only medication that would decrease the inflammation that comes with cancer in general. Many other cancers are associated with inflammation, and people will feel better. Now, with the JAK inhibitors, for example, we have opportunity, because the JAK-STAT highway is important for the progression of the bone marrow cells, but it’s also important for inflammatory aspects of the disease.

With these medications—JAK inhibitors—we can actually provide both control of the blood cells in the disease and control of the symptoms which are related to inflammation. So anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects of the drugs are combined for us to see these benefits.

Andrew Schorr:

Okay, so the night sweats, the itching—that’s related to inflammation. 

Dr. Verstovsek:  

This is disease-related, systemic symptoms. This is a systemic disease. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on July 17, 2017