Altered mental status in patients with cancer.

  • Tuma R
  • DeAngelis L
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Examined the causes of delirium and factors related to outcome in patients with cancer. 140 26-92 yr old hospitalized patients examined had non-CNS cancers, including cancer of the lung (20%), gastrointestinal tract (18%), leukemia and lymphoma (17%) and breast (11%). 50% of patients had disseminated systemic metastases, 34% were confused at hospital admission, and 66% subsequently developed confusion. Symptoms included lethargy or coma, agitation, disorientation, lateralizing signs, delusions or hallucinations and seizures. Causes of delirium (definite, probable, possible or contributory) included drugs, infection, organ dysfunction, brain lesion, hypoxia, electrolyte disorder, environmental, brain radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery. A single cause was found of 33% of patients; 67% had multiple causes. Drugs (especially opioids) were related to delirium in 64% of patients. Although delirium improved in 67% of patients, it was an indicator of poor prognosis for overall outcome. The authors conclude that cancer patients usually have multiple causes of delirium, many of which can be treated. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Delirium
  • *Etiology
  • *Neoplasms
  • *Prognosis
  • Hospitalized Patients

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  • Rogerio Tuma

  • Lisa M DeAngelis

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