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Prepare: Watch Out for Fever

Photo of a man with a thermometer and an ice pack

If you get a fever during your chemotherapy treatment, it’s a medical emergency. Fever may be the only sign that you have an infection, and an infection during chemotherapy can be life-threatening.

You should take your temperature any time you feel warm, flushed, chilled, or not well. If your temperature is 100.4°F (38°C) or higher for more than one hour, or 101°F (38.3°C) or higher for any length of time, call your doctor right away, even if it happens in the middle of the night. You should also—

  • Find out from your doctor when your white blood cell count is likely to the be the lowest, since this is when you’re most at risk for infection.
  • Keep a working thermometer in a convenient location and know how to use it.
  • Keep your doctor’s phone numbers with you at all times. Make sure you know what number to call when their office is open and closed.
  • If you have to go to the emergency room, tell the person checking you in that you are a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. If you have a fever, you might have an infection. This is a life-threatening condition, and you should be seen quickly.
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