Rituximab-based therapy for gemcitabine-induced hemolytic uremic syndrome in a patient with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma: a case report
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The purpose of this report is to describe the management and outcome of an unusual complication of a commonly used chemotherapeutic agent. Gemcitabine is a known risk factor for hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can often have a rapidly fatal clinical course despite intervention with steroids, plasmapheresis and hemodialysis.
A retrospective report of the first case of gemcitabine-related HUS, in a patient with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma, treated with a variety of standard therapies in addition to rituximab is presented. The hematologic response parameters and clinical outcomes to each of the therapies given are described.
Chemotherapy-induced HUS was aggressively treated with plasmapheresis, high-dose steroids, vincristine and rituximab. Platelet recovery and clinical improvement coincided with administration of rituximab. In addition, aggressive supportive measures to manage renal failure (hemodialysis) and labile hypertension, allowed this patient to have an extended survival as a result of successful therapy for this complication despite an underlying rapidly fatal malignancy.
This case highlights the importance of timely application of aggressive measures even in patients with known diagnosis of a fatal malignancy as these interventions can prolong life and be of palliative benefit.