Coping with Hypercalcemia in Childhood Cancer
Symptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.
Hypercalcemia is when a person has a higher than usual level of calcium in the blood. About 10% – 20% of people with cancer develop hypercalcemia, which can be life-threatening.
Most of the calcium in one’s body is in the bones; around 1% of the body’s calcium is the blood. Calcium is important for many bodily functions including helping with bone formation and muscle, nerve, and brain function.
The body controls the level of calcium in the blood in many ways. Both parathyroid hormone and the kidneys play a role; Parathyroid hormone is released by the parathyroid glands and the kidneys remove excess calcium from the blood.
Hypercalcemia symptoms often develop slowly and may be similar to the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer treatment. The severity of an individual’s symptoms is not related to the calcium level in the blood; many patients have no symptoms at all.
Cancer can cause high levels of blood calcium in different ways; Cancers that affect the bone such as Multiple Myeloma or Leukaemia and cancer that has spread to the bone may cause the bone to break down, which releases excess calcium into the blood.
Some tumours produce a protein that acts very similar to parathyroid hormone, which causes the bone to release calcium into the blood. Some cancers can affect the ability of the kidneys to remove excess calcium from the blood.
Dehydration caused by nausea and vomiting makes it difficult for the kidneys to remove calcium from the blood properly. Lack of physical activity can also cause bone to break down, releasing calcium into the blood.
Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Hypercalcemia on our static page, Hypercalcemia in Childhood Cancer
Posted on 21 June, 2016, in Blog and tagged cancer, Child Cancer Awareness, childhood cancer, Children with Cancer, Fighting Cancer, Hypercalcemia, Little Fighters Cancer Trust, side effects. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.