Korean J Clin Pharm.  2019 Sep;29(3):166-172. 10.24304/kjcp.2019.29.3.166.

Real-world Treatment Pattern and Outcomes of Hypercalcemia among Solid Tumor Patients

  • 1Department of Pharmacy, Seoul National University Hospital, 101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03080, Republic of Korea.
  • 2Seoul National University College of Medicine, 101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03080, Republic of Korea. moisa@snu.ac.kr
  • 3Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University, 101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03080, Republic of Korea.
  • 4Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, 101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03080, Republic of Korea.
  • 5College of Pharmacy and Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, Republic of Korea. jypharm@snu.ac.kr


Hypercalcemia is an important metabolic emergency condition in cancer patients. Bisphosphonate is the treatment of choice for hypercalcemia, whereas calcitonin and hydration with furosemide are recommended for acute supportive therapy. However, data regarding real-world treatment patterns and outcomes of pharmacological treatments are limited. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the treatment patterns and clinical outcomes of hypercalcemia treatment in solid tumor patients.
Electronic medical records of 123 adults with solid cancers and albumin-corrected calcium levels >10.5 mg/dL or ionized calcium levels >1.35 mmol/L were reviewed. We retrospectively analyzed the pharmacological treatment and recovery rate according to the severity of hypercalcemia.
A total of 177 cases were identified, of which 49 were not treated and 30 were treated with hydration only. In moderate-to-severe cases, 86.5% received pharmacological treatment. Thirty-four cases (19.2%) were treated with bisphosphonate alone and 58 cases (32.8%) were treated with bisphosphonate and calcitonin. In mild hypercalcemia cases, the recovery rate was higher for those receiving hydration only or pharmacological treatment (79.7%) than for those receiving no treatment (61.4%, p = 0.041). Most moderate-to-severe cases were treated with medication and of those treated, 56.3% recovered. The recovery rate was lower in those treated with bisphosphonate alone (38.2%) than in those who underwent calcitonin combination treatment (73.7%, p = 0.001).
Bisphosphonate combined with calcitonin was found to be more effective than bisphosphonate alone for the treatment of moderate-to-severe hypercalcemia. Considering the current shortage of calcitonin, further efforts are required to ensure its stable supply.


Bisphosphonate; calcitonin; hypercalcemia; neoplasms
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