Type your tag names separated by a space and hit enter

Oncologic Emergencies

Oncologic Emergencies is a topic covered in the Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics.

To view the entire topic, please or purchase a subscription.

The Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics helps you diagnose and treat hundreds of medical conditions. Consult clinical recommendations from a resource that has been trusted on the wards for 50+ years. Explore these free sample topics:

Washington Manual

-- The first section of this topic is shown below --

The most common oncology emergencies are febrile neutropenia (FN), TLS, malignant hypercalcemia, spinal cord compression, SVC syndrome, and brain metastases with increased intracranial pressure (Table 22-14).

Table 22-14: Oncologic Emergencies
Neutropenic feverInfectiousTemperature >38.3°C or >38°C two times 1 h apart
  1. Antibiotic coverage: gram-negative with pseudomonal activity, and gram-positive if risk factors (catheters, pneumonia, mucositis, Staphylococcus colonization, sepsis), and also fungal if unstable
  2. IV hydration and supportive care as appropriate
Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS)Massive lysis of cancer cells (mostly with chemotherapy)Hyperuricemia, hyperkalemia, hyperphosphatemia, hypocalcemia, AKI, cardiac arrhythmias, and/or seizures
  1. Prevention with IV fluids and prophylactic allopurinol or rasburicase based on estimated risk of TLS
  2. Treatment: Aggressive hydration, rasburicase, dialysis
HypercalcemiaHumoral, PTHrP, bone metastasis, calcitriol mediated (lymphomas)Dehydration, CNS symptoms, constipation, ileus, weakness, cardiac (bradycardia, short QT, prolonged PR, etc.)
  1. IV hydration
  2. Bisphosphonates or denosumab (if low creatinine clearance)
  3. Calcitonin (if symptomatic, rapid onset)
  4. Steroids can be useful
Spinal cord compression (SCC)Metastatic or involvement of spine in SCCPain, weakness, sensory loss, incontinence, ataxia
  1. Steroids
  2. Neurosurgery consultation
  3. RT
  4. Chemotherapy can be considered in few cases of SCC
Superior vena cava (SVC) syndromeObstruction of SVC by primary or metastatic cancer (mostly intrathoracic)Dyspnea, stridor (laryngeal edema), facial and upper extremity swelling, risk of cerebral edema and herniation
  1. Histologic diagnosis is important
  2. Consider upfront endovascular stent and RT if comatose or respiratory compromise
  3. Treatment depends on tumor type: SCLC, lymphoma, germ cell: chemotherapy; NSCLC: RT; thymic tumors: surgery
Hyperleukocytosis with leukostasisIntravascular accumulation of blasts, with or without DICChest pain, respiratory distress, stupor, TLS, DIC
  1. Leukapheresis: symptomatic patients (count threshold AML >50 × 10/μL, ALL and CML >150 × 10/μL, CLL >500 × 10/μL); asymptomatic patients (AML >100 × 10/μL, ALL >200 × 10/μL)
  2. Hydroxyurea for cytoreduction

AKI, acute kidney injury; ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia; AML, acute myeloid leukemia; CLL, chronic lymphocytic leukemia; CML, chronic myeloid leukemia; CNS, central nervous system; DIC, disseminated intravascular coagulation; NSCLC, non–small-cell lung cancer; PTHrP, parathyroid hormone-related protein; RT, radiotherapy; SCLC, small-cell lung cancer.

-- To view the remaining sections of this topic, please or purchase a subscription --


Williams, Dominique, et al., editors. "Oncologic Emergencies." Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics, 35th ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2016. Washington Manual, www.unboundmedicine.com/washingtonmanual/view/Washington-Manual-of-Medical-Therapeutics/602564/all/Oncologic_Emergencies.
Oncologic Emergencies. In: Williams D, Ramgopal R, Gdowski M, et al, eds. Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics. 35th ed. Wolters Kluwer Health; 2016. https://www.unboundmedicine.com/washingtonmanual/view/Washington-Manual-of-Medical-Therapeutics/602564/all/Oncologic_Emergencies. Accessed July 22, 2019.
Oncologic Emergencies. (2016). In Williams, D., Ramgopal, R., Gdowski, M., Dretler, A., & Bhat, P. (Eds.), Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics. Available from https://www.unboundmedicine.com/washingtonmanual/view/Washington-Manual-of-Medical-Therapeutics/602564/all/Oncologic_Emergencies
Oncologic Emergencies [Internet]. In: Williams D, Ramgopal R, Gdowski M, Dretler A, Bhat P, editors. Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics. Wolters Kluwer Health; 2016. [cited 2019 July 22]. Available from: https://www.unboundmedicine.com/washingtonmanual/view/Washington-Manual-of-Medical-Therapeutics/602564/all/Oncologic_Emergencies.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Oncologic Emergencies ID - 602564 ED - Williams,Dominique, ED - Ramgopal,Rajeev, ED - Gdowski,Mark, ED - Dretler,Alexandra, ED - Bhat,Pavat, BT - Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/washingtonmanual/view/Washington-Manual-of-Medical-Therapeutics/602564/all/Oncologic_Emergencies PB - Wolters Kluwer Health ET - 35 DB - Washington Manual DP - Unbound Medicine ER -