While high temperatures offer the perfect opportunity to make the most out of spending time outdoors – whether you hit the local beach or have a picnic in your go-to park – they could also worsen underlying health problems.
According to Dr Deborah Lee, from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, heat could take a toll on cancer symptoms.
Dr Lee said: “Cancer causes a variety of miserable symptoms, many of which are likely to worsen in the summer months.
“This is because high temperatures increase the risk of three conditions – dehydration, skin sensitivity and infection.”
The doctor explained that these three problems could be connected to any cancer but they are more common with cancers that have advanced or spread.
Cancer patients often struggle with debilitating symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, which can leave them with a poor appetite and reluctance to drink.
Dr Lee said: “In the hot summer, we are all advised to increase our fluid intake to three litres a day, but this may not be possible for those with cancer.
“In addition, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can affect kidney function which further disrupts fluid balance.”
The doctor recommended looking out for symptoms of dehydration, including dry mouth, cracked lips, tiredness, dizziness, headache and passing less urine.
Chemotherapy is known for its long list of undesirable side effects, with the skin also taking a hit.
Dr Lee said: “One consequence of chemotherapy is an increased sensitivity of the skin to the effects of UV radiation.
“Many cancer patients have dry, itchy skin, and being in the sun can make these symptoms worse. They are also at increased risk of sunburn.
“Sometimes patients can develop photoallergic reactions, meaning they develop a rash after sun exposure on non-sun-exposed sites.”
Increased risk of infection
Another unwanted side effect of chemotherapy is that patients often have a low white blood cell count, which puts them at an increased risk of infection.
Worryingly, some microorganisms reproduce quicker in the summer months, posing a higher risk of infections, such as gastroenteritis, according to the doctor.
Dr Lee said: “Summer activities, like swimming in the sea, lakes and rivers, put cancer patients at increased risk of infections such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Norovirus and E.coli.
“These can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea, worsening symptoms cancer patients may have already.”
The doctor added that suffering from any of the signs described above warrants contacting your GP or cancer team.