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Oncologic Emergencies: The Anesthesiologist's Perspective

Michael W. Lew, Andres Falabella, Earl Moore-Jeffries, Russell J. Gray, and Michael J. Sullivan

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. During the course of treatment, a cancer patient may present emergently to the hospital because of either the cancer itself or a manifestation of cancer therapy. Rarely, patients with cancer can present to the operating room with several emergent conditions that require the services of an anesthesiologist. The main oncologic emergencies affecting anesthesiologists relate to airway obstruction and cardiac-, neurologic-, gastrointestinal-, and endocrine-related conditions. Mismanagement of these crises can increase morbidity and mortality. This article addresses emergencies in patients with cancer and how they relate to anesthetic care.