Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Common acute oncological emergencies: diagnosis, investigation and management
  1. N Walji,
  2. A K Chan,
  3. D R Peake
  1. The Cancer Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  1. Dr N Walji, The Cancer Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK; nawaz.walji{at}


In the UK an aging population is resulting in more people being diagnosed with cancer, and an increasing number of treatment options means that many patients live significantly longer with their disease. It is anticipated therefore that an increasing number of patients will present to primary and secondary care with acute complications of cancer, or the treatment thereof. Many doctors have limited experience in managing patients with cancer and acute oncological emergencies. This article reviews the diagnosis and management of four common oncological emergencies: febrile neutropenia, metastatic spinal cord compression, superior vena cava obstruction, and malignancy associated hypercalcaemia. It is vital to recognise these conditions, as failure to implement immediate and appropriate treatment may result in significant morbidity or death.

  • oncological emergencies
  • febrile neutropenia
  • metastatic spinal cord compression
  • superior vena cava obstruction
  • malignancy associated hypercalcaemia

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • NW and AC have contributed equally to this article and wish to be considered as equal first co-authors

  • Competing interests: None.