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Tumor Lysis Syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.

What is tumor lysis syndrome?

Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) is a condition that happens when cancer cells die quickly. Dying cells release large amounts of potassium, phosphate, and uric acid into the blood. This can cause heart or kidney problems and lead to kidney failure. TLS can become life-threatening if is not managed or treated. It most commonly happens after chemotherapy or radiation treatment, but may also occur after other forms of cancer treatment.

What are the signs and symptoms of TLS?

  • Fatigue or confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness, cramps, or spasms
  • Tingling around your mouth or in your hands or feet
  • A feeling that your heart flutters, or beats faster or slower than normal
  • Seizures

How is TLS diagnosed?

Blood tests are done to check potassium, calcium, phosphate, and uric acid levels. They also help healthcare providers monitor your kidney function.

How is TLS treated?

  • Liquids are given to help you stay hydrated and urinate more . These may be given orally or through an IV.
  • Medicines help decrease potassium and uric acid levels in your blood. Medicine may also be given to help you urinate more.
  • Dialysis may be needed to decrease potassium levels in your blood. It also helps protect your heart and kidneys.

How can I help manage TLS symptoms?

  • Increase liquids as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much and what you should drink.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, aspirin, and vitamin C. These increase uric acid levels. High uric acid levels increase your risk of kidney stones or kidney failure.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have a seizure.
  • You feel your heart flutter, or beat faster or slower than normal.
  • You vomit repeatedly.
  • You have tingling around your mouth or in your hands or feet.
  • You have muscle weakness, cramps, or spasms.
  • You are fatigued or confused.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You urinate less than normal for you or not at all.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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