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Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2003 Mar;51(3):187-92. Epub 2003 Feb 28.

Acute tumor lysis syndrome in solid tumors--a case report and review of the literature.

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Department of Oncology, National University Hospital, 9 Blegdamsvej, DK-2100, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) is a potential complication in cancer therapy. It may occur in highly sensitive tumors, especially in childhood cancers and acute leukemias, whereas it is rare in the treatment of adult solid tumors. TLS is characterized by hyperuricemia, hyperkalemia, hyperphosphatemia and hypocalcemia following massive lysis of malignant cells. Complications include acute renal failure and metabolic acidosis. We report the first case of TLS during chemotherapy in a patient with metastatic medulloblastoma, together with a review of the literature regarding the occurrence of TLS in patients with solid tumors.


Data regarding clinical and biochemical parameters were extracted from the actual patients' files. Reports of TLS in the English language literature up to 2002 were identified by searching Medline.


A 23-year old male with metastatic medulloblastoma received chemotherapy with cisplatin and etoposide due to massive extracerebral manifestations including metastases to the liver, mediastinal lymph nodes and bone marrow metastases. The patient developed classical signs of TLS on the second day of chemotherapy, including acute renal failure. A 17-fold increase in plasma LDH up to 87608 U/l was observed together with a 4-fold increase in plasma creatinine. The patient was treated with aggressive hydration, allopurinol and repeated hemodialysis. During the following days the patient improved and the biochemical markers all returned to normal. REVIEW. Reviewing the literature, a total of 45 patients with solid tumors who developed TLS have been reported. Most of the patients presented with metastatic, therapy-sensitive disease. Although preventable in practically 100% of patients, TLS is a potentially fatal complication, and in this material the mortality rate was one in three. Risk factors included increased LDH, hyperuricemia and pretreatment azotemia.


TLS is only rarely associated with treatment of solid tumors. Precautions should be taken to avoid this potentially fatal complication in (chemo)therapy of solid tumors, especially in therapy-sensitive tumors presenting with bulky, metastatic disease and preexisting risk factors, including azotemia, elevated LDH and hyperuricemia. Prophylactic treatment to avoid TLS includes allopurinol, hydration prior to treatment and alkalization of the urine. Urate oxidase (rasburicase) is now beginning to replace allopurinol as a more effective way of reducing hyperuricemia and thereby the risk of TLS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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