Hot flushes and sweating

Hot flushes and sweats can be caused by some cancer treatments. Find out more about ways to reduce their severity and how often they happen.

What is a hot flush?

Hot flushes can vary from a mild feeling of warmth in the face to a heavy night sweat.

Hot flushes generally last for about 4 to 5 minutes. You may feel suddenly warm in your face, neck and chest. You may become flushed and sweaty. You might also feel your heart beating faster (palpitations) during a flush.

What causes hot flushes and sweats?

Hot flushes and sweats can be caused by some cancer treatments. They are often caused by treatments that lower the levels of the hormones oestrogen or testosterone in the body. Examples of these treatments include:

If hot flushes or sweating are a side effect of cancer treatment, your cancer doctor or nurse can explain how this is likely to affect you. For some treatments, hot flushes and sweating may gradually reduce as your body adjusts.

Other causes

Hot flushes or sweating are a common symptom of natural menopause and a common side effects of taking hormonal therapies. But they may also be:

  • a symptom of a health condition or illness – for example, feeling hot and flushed can be a sign of an infection
  • a symptom of certain types of cancer – for example, night sweats are sometimes a symptom of lymphoma.

It is important to tell your doctor or nurse if you have hot flushes or sweating. They can talk to you about possible causes and treatments. They can arrange tests if needed.


Tips to help with hot flushes and sweats

It is difficult to stop hot flushes and sweats. But there are ways to help reduce how often they happen and how bad they are. Using more than 1 method often works best.

Ways to manage hot flushes include:

  • writing down when you have flushes to see whether something triggers them – this can help you avoid them
  • dressing in layers so you can remove clothes when you need to
  • using natural fabrics, such as cotton clothes and bedsheets
  • having layers of bedding that you can easily take off during the night
  • keeping the room temperature cool or using a fan
  • having cold drinks rather than hot ones
  • drinking less alcohol
  • trying to stop smoking, if you smoke
  • losing weight, if it is suitable for you to
  • trying complementary therapies, such as controlled breathing or yoga.

Medicines to help with hot flushes

There may be medicines your doctor can prescribe to help with hot flushes if they are caused by:

Complementary therapies for hot flushes

Some people find that complementary therapies help reduce hot flushes. These may include controlled breathing, yoga and acupuncture. Some of these therapies may be available on the NHS. Your GP can give you more details. If you would like to find a complementary therapist, make sure they are properly qualified and registered.

Some complementary therapies may interfere with your cancer treatment. Talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse if you are thinking of starting a complementary therapy.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our late effects of breast cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at

    Curigliano et al 2020. Management of cardiac disease in cancer patients throughout oncological treatment: ESMO consensus recommendations. Annals of Oncology. Vol 31 (2). Available from: [accessed November 2021].

    Fabi et al 2020. Cancer-related fatigue: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis and treatment. Annals of Oncology. Available from: [accessed November 2021].

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Early and locally advanced breast cancer: diagnosis and management. NG101. Available from: [accessed November 2021].

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Dr Rebecca Roylance, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Professor Mike Dixon, Professor of Surgery and Consultant Breast Surgeon.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

  • use plain English
  • explain medical words
  • use short sentences
  • use illustrations to explain text
  • structure the information clearly
  • make sure important points are clear.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 July 2023
Next review: 01 July 2026
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.