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Am J Med. 1983 Mar;74(3):421-32.

Comparative study of available medical therapy for hypercalcemia of malignancy.


The relative efficacy of five drugs in the treatment of hypercalcemia of malignancy was assessed in a randomized study. The drugs were oral phosphate, mithramycin, glucocorticoids, indomethacin, and ethane-1-hydroxy-1, 1-diphosphonate (EHDP). No single agent was universally effective. Oral phosphate and mithramycin were the most efficacious, each producing a decrease in serum calcium concentrations in four of five patients, although there were serious disadvantages with the use of each. Glucocorticoids were effective in only two of five patients who received randomized treatment. A further five patients received nonrandomized treatment with glucocorticoids, and only three of these showed response. Indomethacin was effective in only one of five patients to whom it was given, and EHDP was effective also in only one of five patients. The new diphosphonate, 3-amino-1-hydroxypropane-1, 1-diphosphonate (APD) was evaluated in the treatment of hypercalcemia in 13 patients with malignant disease and two with primary hyperparathyroidism. APD caused a significant decrease in serum calcium concentration in nine of 12 patients within 72 hours. These results indicate that there is no currently available pharmacologic agent that is entirely satisfactory in the treatment of hypercalcemia. The most effective agents were mithramycin, oral phosphate, and APD. Glucocorticoids and orally administered EHDP showed limited effectiveness, and indomethacin was ineffective in the majority of patients.

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