Oncologic Emergencies: Pathophysiology, Presentation, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Outlined methods for prompt identification of and intervention in oncologic emergencies.

Pathophysiology, Presentation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Oncologic Emergencies

Oncologic emergencies can occur at any time during the course of a malignancy, from the presenting symptom to end-stage disease. A recent article in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians outlined methods for prompt identification of and intervention in these emergencies, which can prolong survival and improve quality of life, even in the setting of terminal illness.

The review was done by clinicians from the Department of Oncology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn. The article reviews hypercalcemia, hyponatremia, hypoglycemia, tumor lysis syndrome, cardiac tamponade, superior vena cava syndrome, airway obstruction and other conditions in patients with malignancies.

“Although some of these conditions are related to cancer therapy, they are by no means confined to the period of initial diagnosis and active treatment. In the setting of recurrent malignancy, these events can occur years after the surveillance of a cancer patient has been appropriately transferred from a medical oncologist to a primary care provider,” the authors wrote in the study abstract. “As such, awareness of a patient’s cancer history and its possible complications forms an important part of any clinician’s knowledge base.”

Oncologic emergencies: Pathophysiology, Presentation, Diagnosis, and Treatment [CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians]