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Hypercalcaemia in cancer patient - anyone with experience in this please?

(5 Posts)
PussinJimmyChoos Tue 02-Jun-09 19:49:50

My Grandad is 78 years old. He had bladder cancer a few years ago and it was treated successfully with the removal of his prostate and bladder and then radiotherapy. However, he hurt his shoulder in March and since then, the pain has not gone away.

He went to the GP who sent him for an X ray and they found a mass. He had a CT scan and saw the oncologist and they confirmed it was malignant and lung cancer.

He was due to start radiotherapy this week but he then started to become really confused - hallucinations, dizzy and very spaced out. He was also very agitated with my Gran when she tried to do things for him.

They initially thought it was his medication, then thought it was a chest or urine infection. He was admitted to hospital yesterday and they have now said its high levels of calcium causing his behaviour and they will treat it accordingly...is this right?? I didn't realise high levels of calcium could cause this kind of behaviour. He's not at the stage of the illness yet where he is in a coma and hallucinating, as I know some cancer patients do

One of his kidneys is smaller than the other and is shrinking, probably due to his age, condition etc but also, they suspect the cancer is in the bone - which was how he got the shoulder pain in the first place - the bone crumbled or something when he threw a stick for their dog.

Would the hypercalcaemia be due to the decreased renal function, the bone cancer or both? I've been reading my old text books and it doesn't seem that there is much of a correlation between calcium levels and spread of cancer to the bone...

Any help appreciated

Puss

wrinklytum Tue 02-Jun-09 19:56:56

Yes,hypercalcaemia can be a common in cancer patients and can cause the symptoms you descricbe.To treat effectively people are usually given intravenous fluids like sodium chloride and then Biphosphonate drugs to correct the calcium (Such as "Pamidronate" for instance.It is often given as an IV infusion and the patients Biochemical profile (Which show sthe calcium level) will be closely monitore d to check levels are dropping.

PussinJimmyChoos Tue 02-Jun-09 20:10:37

Thanks Wrinkly..afaik, it means the cancer is at a serious stage?

wrinklytum Tue 02-Jun-09 20:27:52

I would see if you could talk to the oncologst about your grandads prognosis,I am not a medic and would hate to give any kind of prognosis over the t'internet!

The people I have seen have largely had multiple myeloma so a double whammy of a raised parathyroid hormone and increased osteoclast activity in bones. leading to the hypercalacaemia.(sorry for jargon).Sometimes certain oncology drugs can be causative of the hypercalcaemia.If left it can be extremely serious but hypercalcaemia can be treated effectively.As for longterm prognosis I would really hate to give a time scale as I do not have the knowledge.

So sorry to hear you are going through this.

PussinJimmyChoos Wed 03-Jun-09 16:26:19

No worries re jargon - am familiar with it to some extent as have Biomedical degree - which is quite helpful at a time like this!

Gran is seeing the oncologist tomorrow so I guess we will get a very clear picture of what exactly is going on then. They are working on bringing his Calcium down before they do the radiotherapy.

The frustrating thing is not having an exact picture...hopefully all will become clearer tomorrow!

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