Common complications and emergencies associated with cancer and its therapy

Author and Disclosure Information



As the incidence of cancer rises and as physicians treat it more aggressively, more patients will experience complications of cancer or of its therapy.


To review the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of the superior vena cava syndrome, malignant pericardial effusions, the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion, hypercalcemia, the tumor lysis syndrome, seizures, spinal cord compression, obstructive uropathy, infections, febrile neutropenia, bleeding, thrombocytopenia, and coagulopathies in patients with cancer.


In general, the best treatment for most of the complications of cancer is to successfully treat the cancer itself; if this is not feasible, palliative measures should be taken. The complications of treatment are well known and should be treated promptly when they arise if they cannot be prevented.


Although treating the complications associated with cancer cannot always prolong the patient’s life, it frequently can improve the quality of life remaining. Therefore, physicians who care for patients with cancer should anticipate these complications and treat them promptly when they occur.



Next Article: