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Some people with cancer develop a condition that causes cancer cells to break down and die very quickly. A large number of cancer cells dying within a short period triggers an increase of certain chemicals. Normally, the kidneys can remove these chemicals as waste, but when the process occurs too rapidly, the kidneys cannot keep up, and tumor lysis syndrome or TLS develops. Doctors consider this condition an oncology emergency because rapid changes affect organ function throughout the body.

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1. Who Is at Risk of Developing TLS?

In most cases, tumor lysis syndrome develops about a week after chemotherapy treatments begin, though it may occur spontaneously in people with cancer who have a large number of cancer cells, faster-growing cancer, or a large cancerous mass. TLS also has been diagnosed in people receiving steroidal, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy treatments. Research suggests people with acute or high-grade lymphoma have a higher risk of developing TLS. Dehydration and existing kidney issues increase the risk.

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