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Am J Med. 1983 Mar;74(3):475-80.

Therapy of malignancy-associated hypercalcemia: 1983.


Hypercalcemia is common among patients with cancer and may be due to secretion by tumors of a humoral, calcemic, bone-resorbing factor or, alternatively, to skeletal metastases. In each case, hypercalcemia ultimately results from osteoclastic bone resorption. Therapy should be aimed at (1) reducing or eliminating tumor burden, (2) increasing renal calcium clearance, and (3) inhibiting osteoclastic bone resorption. Hydration with saline infusion and augmentation of calciuresis with furosemide should be the initial modes of therapy in most patients. Oral phosphorus should be used in hypophosphatemic patients. Glucocorticoids, calcitonin, and prostaglandin synthetase inhibitors may be effective in reducing bone resorption in selected patients. Mithramycin reliably induces a fall in serum calcium but long-term use is usually complicated by toxicity. A new class of drugs that inhibit osteoclastic bone resorption, the diphosphonates, is being employed in clinical trials in patients with malignancy-associated hypercalcemia. Results have been particularly promising with dichloromethylene diphosphonate.

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