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Open access

Deeb Daoud Naccache

Summary

Ten years after the successful withdrawal from heroin abuse, a person with diabetes suffered intractable pain and severe muscular emaciation consistent with the syndrome of diabetic neuropathic cachexia. Anti-neuropathic medications failed neither to alleviate suffering and reverse weight loss, nor to stop muscular emaciation. Vigilant evaluation for weight loss aetiologies revealed no responsible aetiology. Prescribing medical cannabis became mandatory, with the intention to alleviate neuropathic pain, regain muscular mass and strengthen legs, enable standing upright and walking normally. Medical cannabis for pain-relief, and the orexigenic properties of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ingredient successfully achieved these goals.

Learning points:

  • Medical cannabis can serve to promptly alleviate severe diabetic neuropathic pain.

  • Past history of heroin abuse was not an absolute contraindication to medical cannabis use.

  • Medical cannabis increased appetite and reversed muscular emaciation.

  • Medical cannabis decreased chronic pain and hence, its catabolic consequences.

Open access

Said Darawshi, Mahmoud Darawshi, and Deeb Daoud Naccache

Severe hypocalcaemia in breast cancer with bone metastasis is a rare finding usually associated with an advanced stage of the disease. We report a case of a 45-year-old woman with a history of local ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast, who presented with muscle tremors and general weakness. Hypocalcaemia was evident, with a positive Chvostek sign and a serum calcium level of 5.9 mg/dL (1.47 mmol/L), phosphorus 5.9 mg/dL (normal range: 2.3–4.7 mg/dL) with normal levels of albumin, magnesium and parathyroid hormone. High oral doses of alpha calcitriol and calcium with i.v. infusion of high calcium doses were instituted, altogether sufficient to maintain only mild hypocalcaemia. A whole-body CT revealed bone lesions along the axial skeleton. A biopsy from a bone lesion revealed a metastasis of breast carcinoma. With this pathological finding, leuprolide (GNRH analogue) and chlorambucil (alkylating agent) were initiated, followed by prompt tapering of infused calcium down to full discontinuation. Serum calcium was kept stable close to the low normal range by high doses of oral alpha calcitriol and calcium. This course raises suspicion that breast metastases to the skeleton caused tumour-induced hypocalcaemia by a unique mechanism. We assume that hypocalcaemia in this case was promoted by a combination of hypoparathyroidism and bone metastasis.

Learning points

  • Severe hypocalcaemia can a presenting symptom for breast cancer relapse.