Background Sweating is an underreported and frequently distressing symptom that can occur in cancer patients. Treatment options are varied and often unsuccessful and patients may not want to try new medication that has adverse effects or increases their tablet load. Non-pharmacological interventions such as cotton T-shirts can be tried but patients may find that they quickly become wet and cold and require frequent changing. There may be a role for garments made from wicking fabric which draw sweat away from the body.
Aim To explore the potential role of wicking fabric for the management of sweats in advanced malignant disease through a case study.* A 54-year-old lady with multiple myeloma experienced frequent drenching sweats, mainly at night. There was no associated fever. Paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids were not helpful. She found that cotton T-shirts became uncomfortably wet, making her feel cold, and they often needed changing overnight leading to lack of sleep. By using wicking fabric T-shirts instead, she was able to enjoy undisturbed nights for several weeks and awoke feeling refreshed and relatively dry. She also found the wicking T-shirts helpful in the management of her daytime sweating. Overall she felt that the wicking garments significantly improved her quality of life at that time.
Conclusion This case study, in the context of the available evidence, suggests a potential useful role of wicking fabric. A randomised crossover study comparing cotton T-shirts with those made from wicking fabric in the management of malignant sweating is now being developed to explore this theme further. *Verbal consent was obtained from the patient who sadly passed away before written consent could be obtained. Written assent provided by patient's husband.
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