There are various ways one can develop hives, known in the medical world as urticaria. Though cancer is generally not considered a major contributor to this condition, there is still a relationship between cases of cancer and hives, especially lung, gastrointestinal, and lymphoma.
Hives may be an indicator of cancer, in rare instances, and long-term conditions should be checked. Hives and cancer can co-exist with other symptoms, such as night sweats, abdominal pain, coughing, and weight loss.
Hives manifest as red welts that can be localized and small on the body or widespread and large. They are generally not related to long-term or serious complications, but rather they appear when the body is experiencing an allergic reaction and histamine and other chemicals are being produced.
This is a natural defense mechanism in response to specific medications, foods, sudden or extreme fluctuations in temperature, and insect bites, among other factors. The mechanism resulting in the reaction can be allergic or non-allergic.
Most causes of hives are acute, meaning that they heal on their own within six weeks. The majority of these cases are caused by an allergic reaction to a particular allergen. Chronic urticaria, or cases where hives remain for longer than six weeks, comprise approximately 30% of cases.
This is when the condition may be an indicator of an underlying issues such as hepatitis, thyroid disease, fungal, viral, or bacterial infections, even cancer.
When other symptoms are present with hives, such as night sweats, hemoptysis, abdominal pain, weight loss, coughing, jaundice, or lymphadenopathy, then tests will need to be performed to determine the exact cause.
The combination of hives and these symptoms can be quite alarming, but all other conditions need to be ruled out so that the underlying etiology for both conditions can be discovered. The diagnostic approaches can vary depending on the suspected type of cancer.
The most frequent types that hives may be a precursor of are lung, gastrointestinal, and lymphoma. Gastrointestinal cancer encompasses cancer of the stomach, pancreas, liver, esophagus, biliary system, bowl, and anus. Lymphoma cancer involves cancer of the lymphatic system, including bone marrow and lymph nodes.
An allergist-immunologist should be consulted with when one suffers from chronic hives. In order to check whether there is a relationship between cancer and hives in individual cases, a comprehensive medical history of the patient and patient’s family needs to be taken.
Furthermore, details of the work and home environment is imperative, and tests may involve urine and blood tests and X-rays. If the doctor suspects a food allergy is the cause, then a skin biopsy may be conducted. The link between this symptom and cancer is unlikely, but when combined with other symptoms, should be checked.