Saturday, January 27, 2024

Consult Rounds: Hypophosphatemia and Tumor Genesis Syndrome

What is this entity? Tumor Genesis Syndrome compared to Tumor Lysis Syndrome.

Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) is a critical medical condition that can arise in leukemias and lymphomas either as an initial presentation or after the initiation of anti-neoplastic treatments. Conversely, tumor genesis syndrome (TGS) is a rare occurrence associated with specific malignancies, particularly those characterized by a high neoplastic burden with rapid proliferation, resulting in the excessive uptake of phosphorus from the serum and leading to hypophosphatemia. Interestingly, a subset of patients may experience a combination of TLS and TGS concurrently, resulting in hypophosphatemia instead of the hyperphosphatemia typically seen in TLS.

From a nephrology perspective, this presents a potential differential diagnosis in leukemic patients. Differentiating hypophosphatemia from TGS is crucial, especially when considering other causes of severe hypophosphatemia related to neoplasms, such as tumor-induced osteomalacia. In this scenario, increased fibroblast growth factor-23 production leads to renal phosphate wasting, mimicking the hypophosphatemia seen in TGS.

In their literature review, Chan et al. highlighted an uncommon presentation involving severe hypophosphatemia, hypokalemia, acute renal failure, and acute respiratory failure in a 16-year-old patient with acute leukemia and significant leukocytosis. Conversely, Zakaria et al. reported a case of a 14-year-old boy with acute T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia who exhibited normal serum biochemistry except for marked hypophosphatemia and elevated LDH levels. Intriguingly, the child showed no symptoms related to low phosphate levels. Additionally, Radi and Nessim described a case of severe hypophosphatemia in an 82-year-old patient with lymphoma, attributing the cause to neoplastic intracellular phosphate uptake. Similarly, Aderka et al. presented a case of a 49-year-old patient with acute myelogenous leukemia experiencing hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, and severe hypophosphatemia (<1 mg/dL) leading to extreme weakness. The hypophosphatemia developed post-chemotherapy initiation and blast lysis, mainly due to the excessive phosphate uptake by leukemic blasts. Recently, another case was described with normal potassium and calcium levels, and despite very low phosphate levels, the patient did not show signs of acute respiratory failure. Additionally, low glucose, elevated LDH, and in some cases elevated lactate may be noted, which may or may not be directly related to TGS but could be a separate effect of leukemia.

Tumor Genesis Syndrome is a rare syndrome that needs to be considered in the differential diagnosis of hypophosphatemia. 

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