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Hypercalcemia

Higher than normal levels of calcium in the blood.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

Conditions that may cause hypercalcemia include:

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Systematic review of bisphosphonates for hypercalcaemia of malignancy

BACKGROUND: Bisphosphonates are the treatment of choice for hypercalcaemia of malignancy (HCM) but there is no consensus regarding which drug or dose should be given. We designed a systematic review to investigate the efficacy of bisphosphonates in the treatment of HCM.

Radioisotopes to ease metastatic bone pain

Pain is commonly experienced by people whose cancer has spread to their bones. There are several ways to treat this pain, including the administration of radioisotopes, which are chemical elements that emit radiation and act on the bone to reduce the effects of the cancer. This review looked at the effectiveness of radioisotopes for relieving pain, reducing patients' needs for conventional pain‐killers, improvements in quality of life, and increased survival. There is some evidence that radioisotopes may give pain relief over one to six months, but the treatment also seemed to be associated with adverse effects, notably reducing blood cells (leucocytes). When comparing different radioisotopes or different doses of a radioisotope, we identified no conclusive differences.

Calcitonin used to treat metastatic bone pain

People who have cancer which has spread to their bones and the nerves adjacent to the bones often suffer severe pain. There are several treatments to help relieve this pain: radiotherapy, analgesic drugs (pain killers) such as opioids, and bone‐modulating drugs such as bisphosphonates and calcitonin. Calcitonin has the potential to relieve pain and maintain bone strength, thus reducing the risk of broken bones. This review looked at the effectiveness of calcitonin for controlling pain from bone metastases. However, only two studies were found with very low quality evidence to support the use of calcitonin for patients suffering from bone pain. We updated the review in 2015 and did not find any more studies. There were slightly more side effects for the patients given calcitonin. Unless new studies provide additional relevant information about this treatment, other therapeutic approaches should be considered.

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Summaries for consumers

Radioisotopes to ease metastatic bone pain

Pain is commonly experienced by people whose cancer has spread to their bones. There are several ways to treat this pain, including the administration of radioisotopes, which are chemical elements that emit radiation and act on the bone to reduce the effects of the cancer. This review looked at the effectiveness of radioisotopes for relieving pain, reducing patients' needs for conventional pain‐killers, improvements in quality of life, and increased survival. There is some evidence that radioisotopes may give pain relief over one to six months, but the treatment also seemed to be associated with adverse effects, notably reducing blood cells (leucocytes). When comparing different radioisotopes or different doses of a radioisotope, we identified no conclusive differences.

Calcitonin used to treat metastatic bone pain

People who have cancer which has spread to their bones and the nerves adjacent to the bones often suffer severe pain. There are several treatments to help relieve this pain: radiotherapy, analgesic drugs (pain killers) such as opioids, and bone‐modulating drugs such as bisphosphonates and calcitonin. Calcitonin has the potential to relieve pain and maintain bone strength, thus reducing the risk of broken bones. This review looked at the effectiveness of calcitonin for controlling pain from bone metastases. However, only two studies were found with very low quality evidence to support the use of calcitonin for patients suffering from bone pain. We updated the review in 2015 and did not find any more studies. There were slightly more side effects for the patients given calcitonin. Unless new studies provide additional relevant information about this treatment, other therapeutic approaches should be considered.

Phosphate binders for preventing and treating bone disease in chronic kidney disease patients

People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) develop impaired excretion of the dietary phosphorus. This results in a condition known as mineral and bone disorder in chronic kidney disease (CKD‐MBD). CKD‐MBD is characterized by high bone turnover, increased musculoskeletal morbidity including bone pain and muscle weakness, and vascular calcification which may contribute to the high incidence of cardiovascular disease and associated deaths. Several agents such as phosphate binders, vitamin D compounds, and calcimimetics are widely used to slow the development and progression of CKD‐MBD complications.

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Terms to know

Blood
A tissue with red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and other substances suspended in fluid called plasma. Blood takes oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, and carries away wastes.
Bone
A living, growing tissue made mostly of collagen.
Calcium
A mineral needed for healthy teeth, bones, and other body tissues. It is the most common mineral in the body. A deposit of calcium in body tissues, such as breast tissue, may be a sign of disease.
Chronic Pancreatitis
Inflammation of the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis may cause diabetes and problems with digestion. Pain is the primary symptom.
Hyperparathyroidism
A condition in which the parathyroid gland (one of four pea-sized organs found on the thyroid) makes too much parathyroid hormone. This causes a loss of calcium from the bones and an increased level of calcium in the blood.
Hyperthyroidism
Too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms include weight loss, chest pain, cramps, diarrhea, and nervousness. Also called overactive thyroid.
Kidney Stones (Renal Calculi)
A stone that develops from crystals that form in urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney, in the renal pelvis, or in the ureters. Kidney stones include calcium oxalate stones, cystine stones, struvite stones, and uric acid stones.
Paget Disease
A bone disease that causes bones to grow larger and weaker than normal.
Parathyroid Cancer
A rare cancer that forms in tissues of one or more of the parathyroid glands (four pea-sized glands in the neck that make parathyroid hormone, which helps the body store and use calcium).
Parathyroid Glands
One of four pea-sized glands found on the surface of the thyroid. The parathyroid hormone made by these glands increases the calcium level in the blood.
Parathyroid Hormone
A substance made by the parathyroid gland that helps the body store and use calcium. A higher-than-normal amount of parathyroid hormone causes high levels of calcium in the blood and may be a sign of disease. Also called parathormone, parathyrin, and PTH.
Rhabdomyolysis
Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle tissue breaks down rapidly. Breakdown products of damaged muscle cells are released into the bloodstream. Some of these, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure.
Sarcoidosis
An inflammatory disease marked by the formation of granulomas (small nodules of immune cells) in the lungs, lymph nodes, and other organs. Sarcoidosis may be acute and go away by itself, or it may be chronic and progressive. Also called sarcoid.
Tuberculosis (TB)
A disease caused by a specific type of bacteria that spreads from one person to another through the air. Tuberculosis can affect many parts of the body, but most often affects the lungs.

More about Hypercalcemia

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Also called: Hypercalcaemia, Hypercalcaemia syndrome, Hypercalcemia syndrome

See Also: Blood Tests

Other terms to know: See all 14
Blood, Bone, Calcium

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