Hypercalcemia occurs rarely at the time of diagnosis in patients found to have epidermoid carcinoma of the head and neck. It is particularly unlikely in those patients who present with potentially curable lesions. Only 2 of our 307 patients who presented with potentially curable lesions were hypercalcemic at the time of diagnosis. Two hundred thirty-eight of these patients were followed up for two years or until death. Of the 139 who did not remain free of disease, hypercalcemia of clinical significance developed in ten (7.2 per cent). Pseudohyperparathyroidism was the suspected cause in seven of twelve patients. Debilitating symptoms were present in all patients with serum calcium levels greater than 12.0 mg/100 ml. Treatment, when given, was effective in alleviating gastrointestinal and central nervous system problems. Although usually temporary, symptomatic improvement was appreciated by most patients and family members.
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