Tumor lysis syndrome is a life-threatening oncologic emergency in adult and pediatric patients with hematologic cancer. It occurs most often in malignancies with rapid cell turnover and large tumor burden, but its incidence has risen in solid tumors. The subsequent release of tumor cell contents into the bloodstream results in dangerous electrolyte and metabolic disturbances.


To provide acute and critical care nurses with a comprehensive review targeted to critical care nursing practice. Recognition of hallmark signs and symptoms will improve early detection and intervention.


A literature review was performed using the following keywords: tumor lysis syndrome, diagnosis, nursing, early detection, and early diagnosis in PubMed and tumor lysis syndrome, diagnosis, early diagnosis, and early detection in CINAHL. Included studies were published in 2014 or later.


Tumor lysis syndrome causes hyperkalemia, hyperphosphatemia, hypocalcemia, and hyperuricemia. These laboratory disturbances can lead to potentially destructive complications including renal injury, arrhythmias, seizures, and neuromuscular instability.


Acute and critical care nurses can use disease-related risk factors and clinical presentations associated with these laboratory derangements to determine the level of monitoring and intervention necessary for impacted patients.


Knowledge of risk factors and clinical presentations will enhance the ability of nurses in clinical practice to prevent adverse events and complications that result from tumor lysis syndrome.

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