Oncology Emergencies > Oncology Emergencies Overview
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An oncologic emergency is defined as any acute condition that is caused by cancer or the treatment of cancer requiring intervention as soon as possible to avoid mortality or severe functional loss (Hong et al., 2010; Grafton, 2008). 

The most frequent reasons patients with cancer seek emergency care include pain, nausea, vomiting, infections in immunocompromised individuals, weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath (Colen, 2008). Cancer patients are more vulnerable to these things than the general population due to their debilitated physical status, altered homeostasis, and impaired immunity that can result from cancer and its treatment.

This module will discuss a few specific oncology emergencies; tumor lysis syndrome (TLS), spinal cord compression, and superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS). It is not meant to teach you all you need to know about oncology emergencies but rather, to create an awareness of some of the more common conditions you may observe in the ED.


  • Recognize common oncology emergencies encountered in the ED and identify patients at risk for each complication.
  • Understand the physiologic changes associated with each complication.
  • Outline key assessments used to identify these complications.
  • Describe the nursing management of patients experiencing oncology emergencies



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