Top Companion Anim Med 2012;27:156-158.
Paraneoplastic syndromes (PNSs) are neoplasm-associated alterations in bodily structure or function or both that occur distant to the tumor. They are an extremely diverse group of clinical aberrations that are associated with the noninvasive actions of the tumor. In many situations, the PNS parallels the underlying malignancy, and therefore, successful treatment of the tumor leads to disappearance of the PNS. Alternatively, recurrence of the PNS after successful treatment signals recurrence of the tumor, and the return of the PNS often significantly precedes the detectable recurrence of the tumor. This is often the case with paraneoplastic hypercalcemia, often referred to as hypercalcemia of malignancy (HM). The most common cause of hypercalcemia in dogs is cancer. Neoplasia is diagnosed in approximately two-thirds of dogs with hypercalcemia vs. approximately one-third in cats. A variety of tumors have been associated with HM. Lymphoma is the most common cause of HM, and the most common anatomical site for dogs with lymphoma-associated HM is the cranial mediastinum. Other tumors associated with HM in dogs and cats include anal sac apocrine gland adenocarcinoma, thyroid carcinoma, multiple myeloma, bone tumors, thymoma, squamous cell carcinoma, mammary gland carcinoma/adenocarcinoma, melanoma, primary lung tumors, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, renal angiomyxoma, and parathyroid gland tumors. As HM is a potential medical emergency, the primary goal in cases of HM is the elucidation of the underlying cause and thereby instituting the appropriate specific therapy.