Common electrolyte imbalances associated with malignancy.
More than one million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during 1992, and 50% will be cured of their disease. Of those individuals not cured of the malignancy, survival time after diagnosis has increased tremendously compared to 1980. Because of advances in therapy and the increase in long-term survival, the presence of cancer patients in critical care units should no longer represent either a medical contradiction or an ethical dilemma when the condition requiring critical care is potentially reversible. Many of these individuals may become patients in critical care settings as a result of specific electrolyte imbalances caused by the malignant disease or treatment of malignancy. Although the imbalances often are temporary, they can be life-threatening without intervention. The most common temporary electrolyte imbalances associated with malignant conditions are hypercalcemia, hyperkalemia, and tumor lysis syndrome. Critical care nurses can contribute skill and knowledge in ameliorating these conditions so that the person with cancer can have better quality and longer survival time.
Hawthorne, JL; Schneider, SM; Workman, ML
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