GGC Medicines

Adult Therapeutics Handbook

Management of acute oncological complications

Management of acute oncological complications


Patients with locally advanced or metastatic cancer will often present as an emergency with acute complications of their disease or treatment. Some patients will have a known diagnosis of cancer and others may present with acute complications of undiagnosed malignant disease. Listed below are common oncological emergencies with guidance on signs and symptoms and initial management. In all cases, the on-call oncology or haematology registrar should be paged urgently.

As with all newly admitted patients, a thorough drug history should be taken. This is especially important for cancer patients presenting with acute toxicity from chemotherapy or other systemic anticancer therapy. Any oral anticancer therapy should be identified and discontinued until advice is sought from the on-call oncology / haematology registrar.

This section includes advice on the management of:

Hypercalcaemia of malignancy: see the Scottish Palliative Care guideline under Palliative Emergencies.


Content updated April 2019