Cancer cells release substances into the blood when they break down and die. Sometimes, the kidneys cannot remove these substances from the blood due to the cancer cells breaking down at a very fast rate. This leads to tumour lysis syndrome (TLS). A number of problems with blood levels including high levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia), potassium (hyperkalemia) and phosphate (hyperphosphatemia) and low levels of calcium (hypocalcemia) fall under TLS.
You should immediately contact an oncologist in Kolkata for treating TLS as it is a potentially life-threatening problem. There can be a lot of complications if it is not controlled. A variety of problems arise from abnormal blood levels. There can be a painful gout-like condition when uric acid gets deposited in the joints. There is much damage and formation of stones when there is a buildup of uric acid in the kidneys. There can be kidney damage and failure when the phosphate levels are high. There are adverse effects on heart rhythm when there are abnormal levels of potassium and calcium. This can also lead to neurological changes like weakness, irritability and confusion.
When a cancer doctor uses chemotherapy to treat certain cancers or blood disorders, TLS is more likely to develop. There is a high white blood cell count due to these cancers. They also have rapidly dividing cells that respond well to treatment or have a high tumour burden.
At the beginning of chemotherapy, a large number of tumour cells are destroyed and that is when tumour lysis syndrome usually occurs. Within a few hours of treatment, it can occur but in most of the cases, it happens 48-72 hours after the beginning treatment. During both systemic chemotherapy and intrathecal chemotherapy, TLS can occur. There are other treatments like radiation therapy, corticosteroids, hormonal therapy and biological therapy, with which TLS is linked.
There may be mild symptoms of tumour lysis syndrome at first. As the levels of abnormal substances in the blood increase, they get worse. Some of the symptoms include:
- Decreased urination
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular heart rate
The following are the diagnostic procedures of tumour lysis syndrome:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Uric acid levels in the blood
- Blood chemistry
Throughout the cancer treatment, your healthcare team including your cancer doctor in Kolkata will do blood tests and watch for symptoms of TLS. They will suggest various measures for treatment if TLS develops. In order to lower the uric acid level in your body and to stop uric acid from becoming crystals, they may give you medicines. If kidney failure worsens or it becomes difficult to treat TLS, you may have to undergo dialysis. It will remove wastes from the blood.