A complication that afflicts as many as 20% of all cancer patients can be partly controlled by a new drug, researchers reported last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The condition, called hypercalcemia, causes high calcium levels in the bloodstream because of bone loss in severely ill cancer patients.
The report said tests of the new drug, called etidronate, at 19 medical centers across the country showed that it reduced calcium levels to normal in about two-thirds of afflicted patients. The research was conducted by Cedars-Sinai Bone Center in Los Angeles.
Alan List of the University of Arizona Health Science Center, in an editorial in the journal commenting on the study, said that despite the favorable reviews, the public should not lose sight of the fact that once hypercalcemia develops, life expectancy is shortened, even among treated patients.