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Bausewein, Claudia; Kühnbach, R. and Haberland, B. (2006): Adrenal insufficiency caused by bilateral adrenal metastases - a rare treatable cause for recurrent nausea and vomiting in metastatic breast cancer. In: Onkologie, No. 5: pp. 203-205 [PDF, 181kB]


Background: Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms in patients with malignant disease. Several, sometimes rare causes have to be considered to decide the right treatment. Case Report: We report of a patient suffering from advanced breast cancer and complaining of severe nausea and vomiting over several weeks without any successful treatment. Later on, she developed marked hyperpigmentation of the skin and hypo-osmolar dehydration. Adrenal enlargement was noted in an abdominal scan. The suspected diagnosis of primary adrenocortical insufficiency due to metastases was confirmed by laboratory tests. After replacement therapy with hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone, the general condition of the patient improved dramatically and the symptoms of nausea and vomiting disappeared completely. Conclusion: If a patient with advanced cancer presents with unexplained and protracted nausea, vomiting and weakness, particularly if accompanied by hyponatremia and normal potassium levels, adrenal insufficiency due to adrenal metastases should be considered.

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