Hyponatremia and hypercalcemia: a study of a large cohort of patients with lung cancer

Vanessa W. Q. Chan, Michael T. Henry, Marcus P. Kennedy

Abstract

Background: Hyponatremia and hypercalcemia are reported to be associated with poorer prognosis in lung cancer. Our study assessed the incidence of hyponatremia and hypercalcemia in a recent large cohort of patients diagnosed with lung cancer in an academic institution and correlated incidence with patient and tumour parameters.
Methods: All patients presented at our regional lung cancer multidisciplinary team meeting between January 2011 and December 2016 were included. The incidence of hyponatremia (serum sodium ≤135 mEq/L) and hypercalcemia (serum calcium >2.62 mmol/L), including severity (mild, moderate or severe) was evaluated and stratified by tumour subtype and stage, and correlated with patient parameters.
Results: A total of 624 patients (mean age, 67.4 years; 59.3% male) diagnosed with tissue-proven lung cancer were included. Hyponatremia and hypercalcemia were present in 31.6% (n=197) and 7.1% (n=44) at time of diagnosis. Hyponatremia occurred most commonly in patients with small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) (n=42; 41.2%; P=0.001). Hypercalcemia occurred most commonly in patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) squamous subtype (n=27; 12.2%; P=0.003). The incidence of hyponatremia and hypercalcemia were significantly higher in the advanced stages (P<0.041), except in SCLC where no difference in hypercalcemia incidence across the stages was observed (P=0.573). The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status (ECOG-PS) score was positively correlated with severity of hyponatremia at the early stage of NSCLC (Spearman correlation coefficient =0.325; P=0.003).
Conclusions: Hyponatremia is a common association in lung cancer, especially in SCLC. Hypercalcemia is an uncommon but significant association in the NSCLC squamous subtype. Hyponatremia might contribute to poorer ECOG-PS scores at the early stage of NSCLC.