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Acute Thoracic Findings in Oncologic Patients

Carter, Brett W. MD; Erasmus, Jeremy J. MD

doi: 10.1097/RTI.0000000000000148
Symposium Review Articles
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Cancer is the second most common cause of mortality in the United States, with >500,000 deaths reported annually. Acute or emergent findings in this group of patients can be a life-threatening phenomenon that results from malignancy or as a complication of therapy. In many cases, these events can be the first clinical manifestation of malignant disease. Oncologic emergencies have been classified as metabolic, hematologic, and structural emergencies. Within the thorax, most acute oncologic findings involve the lungs and airways in the form of drug toxicity, pulmonary infections, or malignant airway compression; the cardiovascular system in the form of pulmonary embolism, superior vena cava syndrome, cardiac tamponade, or massive hemoptysis; the mediastinum in the form of esophageal perforation, acute mediastinitis, or esophagorespiratory fistula; and the osseous spine and spinal cord in the form of invasion and cord compression. Given the life-threatening nature of many of these disease processes, awareness of such complications is critical to making an accurate diagnosis and formulating appropriate treatment strategies.

Department of Diagnostic Radiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence to: Brett W. Carter, MD, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcomble Blvd., Unit 1478, Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail: bcarter2@mdanderson.org)

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