Oncogenic osteomalacia




Oncogenic osteomalacia (also known as tumor-induced osteomalacia or oncogenic hypophosphatemic osteomalacia), is an uncommon disorder resulting in increased renal phosphate excretion, hypophosphatemia and osteomalacia.


Adult patients have worsening myalgias, bone pains and fatigue which are followed by recurrent fractures. Children present with difficulty in walking, stunted growth and deformities of the skeleton (features of rickets).


FGF23 (fibroblast growth factor 23) inhibits phosphate transport in the renal tubule and reduces calcitriol production by the kidney. Tumor production of FGF23, frizzled-related protein 4 and matrix extracellular phosphoglycoprotein (MEPE) have all been identified as possible causative agents for the hypophosphatemia.


Biochemical studies reveal hypophosphatemia (low blood phosphate), elevated alkaline phosphatase and low serum 1, 25 dihydroxyvitamin D levels. Routine laboratory tests do not include serum phosphate levels and this can result in considerable delay in diagnosis. Even when low phosphate is measured, its significance is often overlooked. The next most appropriate test is measurement of urine phosphate levels. If there is inappropriately high urine phosphate (phosphaturia) in the setting of low serum phosphate (hypophosphatemia), there should be a high suspicion for tumor-induced osteomalacia. FGF23 (see below) can be measured to confirm the diagnosis but this test is not widely available.

Once hypophosphatemia and phosphaturia have been identified, a search for the causative tumor should begin. These are small and difficult to define. Gallium-68 DOTA-Octreotate (DOTA-TATE) positron emission tomography (PET) scanning is the best way to locate these tumors. If this scan is not available, other options include Indium-111 Octreotide (Octreoscan) SPECT/CT, whole body CT or MRI imaging.


Resection of the tumor is the ideal treatment and results in correction of hypophosphatemia (and low calcitriol levels) within hours of resection. Resolution of skeletal abnormalities may take many months.

If the tumor cannot be located, treatment with calcitriol (1-3 µg/day) and phosphorus (1-4 g/day in divided doses) is instituted. Tumors which secrete somatostatin receptors may respond to treatment with octreotide. If hypophosphatemia persists despite calcitriol and phosphate supplementation, administration of cinacalcet has been shown to be useful.