Tumour lysis syndrome (TLS) can be caused by some chemotherapy drugs.
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. As the cancer cells break down, they release a chemical called uric acid, which is removed from the body by the kidneys.
TLS can happen when lots of cancer cells are destroyed very quickly. The kidneys can't cope with the increased amount of uric acid. This leads to imbalances in some chemicals (phosphate, potassium and calcium) in the blood. These imbalances can cause more serious problems affecting the kidneys and the heart.
TLS is more common in cancers that grow quickly and respond quickly to chemotherapy, such as acute leukaemias and high-grade lymphomas. People with other types of cancer are rarely affected by TLS.