This patient summary on
This summary is about hypercalcemia in adults with cancer.
Patients who have
Normal calcium regulation
Healthy people consume about the same amount of calcium in their
The main causes of
There is little relationship between
Most patients do not experience all of the symptoms of hypercalcemia, and some patients may not have any symptoms at all. However, most patients with high calcium levels in the blood do have symptoms. Some patients develop signs of hypercalcemia when calcium levels are only slightly high, while patients who have had higher calcium levels for a long time may show few symptoms.
The most common symptoms of hypercalcemia are feeling tired, difficulty thinking clearly, lack of
Symptoms may be classified by the affected body part:
Calcium plays a major role in the normal functioning of the
Hypercalcemia affects normal heart rhythms and increases sensitivity to some heart
Hypercalcemia causes the
Hypercalcemia of cancer can result from
Patients with high calcium levels should be examined for the following:
Symptoms: Nervesand muscles (muscle strength, muscle tone, reflexes, tiredness, indifference, depression, confusion, restlessness).
high blood pressure, heart changes, irregular heartbeat, digitalispoisoning).
Kidneys (production of too much
urine, night-time urinating, sugar in the urine, excess thirst). Gastrointestinal(loss of appetite, nausea, abdominalpain, constipation, abdominal bloating).
Other (muscle and bone pain, itching).
How fast did the symptoms appear?
x-rayevidence of primary or metastaticbone disease?
Has the patient been taking
tamoxifen, estrogen, or androgens?
Is the patient taking
Is the patient receiving calcium in
Is the patient receiving thiazide diuretics, vitamins
Aor D, or lithium?
Is there another disease present that could cause
dehydrationor lack of movement?
Are there effective treatments for the patient's
Decision to treat
The decision to treat
Patients at risk of developing
Fluids are given to treat
The severity of the hypercalcemia determines the amount of treatment necessary. Severe hypercalcemia should be treated immediately and aggressively. Less severe hypercalcemia should be treated according to the symptoms.
Mild hypercalcemia does not usually need to be treated aggressively. Patients with mild hypercalcemia and
Treatment for hypercalcemia can improve symptoms. Increased urination and thirst, central nervous system symptoms, nausea, vomiting, and
After calcium levels return to normal,
Giving fluids by
Moderate to severe hypercalcemia
Replacing fluids is the first and most important step in treating moderate or severe hypercalcemia. Replacing fluids will not restore normal calcium levels in all patients, but it is still important to do first. The patient's
Drugs that may help stop the breakdown of bone include
Patient and family education
Because hypercalcemia affects
Even with improved treatment for hypercalcemia, many patients do not survive this
Treatment of symptoms is important, especially the prevention of accidental or self-inflicted injury if a patient is
Supportive care to comfort
Usually, treatment of the hypercalcemia will eliminate
Patients and family members should report symptoms of hypercalcemia such as lethargy, fatigue, confusion, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, constipation, and excessive thirst to the health care provider.
Hypercalcemia usually develops as a late complication of cancer, and its appearance is very serious. However, it is not clear if death occurs due to a hypercalcemia crisis (uncontrolled or one that comes back and gets worse) or due to the
Current Clinical Trials
Check NCI?s list of cancer clinical trials for U.S. supportive and palliative care trials about hypercalcemia of malignancy that are now accepting participants. The list of trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
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Changes to This Summary (08/19/2011)
Editorial changes were made to this summary.
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