Assessment of frequency and severity of hypomagnesemia in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer treated with cetuximab, with a review of the literature

Oncol Lett. 2015 Dec;10(6):3749-3755. doi: 10.3892/ol.2015.3800. Epub 2015 Oct 12.


Currently, there are a few systemic treatment options for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Targeted therapy used in this setting includes the use of monoclonal antibodies, such as cetuximab or panitumumab, directed against epidermal growth factor receptor. The aim of the present study was to estimate the frequency and severity of hypomagnesemia among patients with mCRC treated with cetuximab. The data from the Department of Clinical Oncology, University Hospital of Krakow (Krakow, Poland), concerning 52 patients treated between 2009 and 2013 were collected. Of these, 27 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria to enter this retrospective study. The National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4.0 were used to grade the level of hypomagnesemia. In total, 29.6% of all patients experienced hypomagnesemia during treatment, and the majority of cases were grade 1 (22.2%). There was no statistically significant correlation between magnesium (Mg) level and patient age, duration of treatment, localization of primary tumor or metastases, and the number of metastases. However, there was an upward trend in a logistic regression model showing that the risk of developing hypomagnesemia increases with age. Hypomagnesemia is a frequent problem among mCRC patients receiving cetuximab. It is essential to introduce guidelines regarding the monitoring of the Mg level and its supplementation in this group of patients.

Keywords: cetuximab; colorectal cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; hypomagnesemia; metastases.