An integrated clinical approach for the identification, prevention, and treatment of tumor lysis syndrome

Cancer Treat Rev. 2010 Apr;36(2):164-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2009.11.001. Epub 2009 Dec 23.


Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) is a potentially life-threatening metabolic disorder that occurs when tumor cells undergo rapid decomposition spontaneously or in response to cytoreductive therapy. Delayed recognition of the metabolic imbalances caused by the massive release of tumor cell contents may result in clinical complications such as acute kidney injury, seizures, and cardiac arrhythmias. Prevention, the key principle in TLS management, relies on the identification of patients at risk for developing TLS during chemotherapy or because of disease progression. TLS-related risk factors pertain to tumor type (particularly hematologic malignancies), specific tumor characteristics (e.g. bulky tumor, high cellular proliferation rate, sensitivity to cytoreductive therapy), and other host-related factors. A comprehensive grading system proposed by Cairo and Bishop classifies TLS syndromes into laboratory or clinical TLS, thus facilitating TLS prevention and management. The mainstays of TLS management include monitoring of electrolyte abnormalities, vigorous hydration, prophylactic antihyperuricemic therapy with allopurinol, and rasburicase treatment of patients at high TLS risk or with established hyperuricemia. Urine alkalinization and use of diuretics remain controversial clinical practices. In this review, we describe the incidence of, risk factors for, and diagnostic characteristics of TLS and summarize strategies for the prevention and management of TLS-associated metabolic abnormalities, particularly hyperuricemia. We specifically highlight recently published TLS management guidelines, which focus on the prevention of TLS and hyperuricemia based on a patient's level of risk, and the important role of nephrologists in the prevention and treatment of one of the most serious complications of TLS, acute kidney injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antimetabolites / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fluid Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Tumor Lysis Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Tumor Lysis Syndrome* / etiology
  • Tumor Lysis Syndrome* / prevention & control


  • Antimetabolites
  • Antineoplastic Agents