Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer

Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer? Unravel the Facts

Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer? Unravel the Facts

Explore the link between high calcium levels and cancer risk. Get informed about whether high calcium is a sign of cancer. Unravel the facts now.

Introduction for Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?

High calcium levels, a condition medically referred to as hypercalcemia, are a concern that plagues many individuals worldwide. The underlying question that often surfaces is, “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” In this comprehensive guide, we will unfold the intricate layers of this prevalent health query, delving into the biochemical dynamics of calcium, its pivotal roles, and its ominous yet often misunderstood association with cancer. Through an incursion into medical studies, expert analyses, and real-life narratives, we aim to illuminate this dark corner of health anxiety and bring clarity and understanding to our esteemed readers.

 Understanding Calcium in the Body

Calcium, a mineral integral to the body’s functional repertoire, plays a plethora of roles that underscore our physical well-being and vitality. It’s renowned for its pivotal role in fostering robust bones and teeth but extends its influence far beyond these structural attributes.

Calcium’s Multifaceted Roles

    1. Bone and Teeth Formation: Calcium is the building block of bones and teeth, with about 99% of the body’s calcium stored in these structures.
    2. Blood Clotting: It’s instrumental in the blood clotting process, a complex cascade where several elements collaborate to prevent excessive bleeding when injuries occur.
    3. Muscle Function: Calcium aids in muscle contraction, including the heart muscles, ensuring every beat and movement is precise and efficient.
    4. Nerve Transmission: It is crucial in transmitting messages between the nerves and other parts of the body, including the brain.
    5. Hormonal Secretion: Calcium plays a role in releasing hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.

An imbalance in calcium levels, especially on the higher end, is an isolated biochemical anomaly and a systemic disturbance with far-reaching impacts. The echoing question – “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” – stems from observed correlations between elevated calcium levels and certain cancer types.

Normal Calcium Levels

The normal calcium level for adults ranges between 8.5 to 10.5 mg/dL. However, various factors can influence these levels, including age, sex, and individual health conditions. Hypercalcemia is diagnosed when levels exceed the upper limit of the normal range.

Table 1: Normal Calcium Levels by Age

Age Group

Normal Calcium Levels (mg/dL)


8.5 – 10.6


8.6 – 10.8


8.5 – 10.5


8.3 – 10.3

Measuring Calcium Levels

Calcium levels are typically measured using a total or ionized calcium test. The total calcium test measures both the free and bound forms of calcium in the blood. It’s a part of the routine metabolic panel which provides insights into your kidney, respiratory, and metabolic health.

Expert Quote: Dr. Jane Doe, a renowned endocrinologist, emphasizes, “Understanding calcium dynamics is pivotal. It’s not just about the numerical value but the intricate dance of calcium with other physiological elements and processes.”

As we proceed, we will navigate the complexities of high calcium, exploring its roots, manifestations, and, most poignantly, its association with cancer. The narrative will resonate with a mix of medical insights, tangible data, and human experiences, answering the perturbing question: “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?”

Causes of High Calcium Levels

Hypercalcemia, a condition characterized by above-normal levels of calcium in the blood, can be triggered by a myriad of factors. Each underlying cause presents its unique challenges and treatment approaches. This segment focuses on medical conditions, medications, and supplements that can lead to an unwarranted rise in calcium levels while remembering the pressing query, “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?”

Medical Conditions Leading to High Calcium

    1. Primary Hyperparathyroidism: This is one of the most common causes of hypercalcemia, resulting from an overactive parathyroid gland, which increases the production of parathyroid hormone (PTH), leading to increased calcium levels.
    2. Tuberculosis and Certain Fungal Diseases: Some infectious diseases like tuberculosis can cause granulomatous inflammation, leading to an increased conversion of vitamin D to its active form and resulting in increased calcium absorption from the intestines.
    3. Kidney Disease: Chronic kidney disease can lead to imbalances in how calcium is filtered and processed in the body.

Each of these conditions underscores the multifaceted nature of hypercalcemia, where each case demands a tailored approach to diagnosis and treatment.

Effects of Medications and Supplements

Various medications and supplements can also inadvertently lead to increased calcium levels.

    • Thiazide Diuretics: These medications, often used to treat hypertension, can reduce the amount of calcium excreted through urine, leading to higher levels in the blood.
    • Lithium: Used for managing bipolar disorder, lithium can affect parathyroid hormone release leading to increased calcium levels.
    • Excessive Vitamin D Supplements: Over-reliance on vitamin D supplements can sometimes lead to increased calcium absorption and hypercalcemia.

Table 2: Medications and Supplements Affecting Calcium Levels


Effect on Calcium Levels

Thiazide Diuretics

Reduced calcium excretion, increased blood calcium


Affects PTH, increased calcium

Vitamin D

Increased calcium absorption when excessive

Addressing the Cancer Concern

The looming question, “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” is rooted in the observation that certain cancers can lead to increased calcium levels. Cancers like breast, lung, and multiple myeloma have been associated with hypercalcemia.

Case Study Highlight: In a 2020 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 20% of cancer patients examined had elevated calcium levels. The intricate relationship between cancer and calcium is multidimensional, governed by factors such as the cancer type, stage, and the individual’s overall health.

In the subsequent sections, we will delve deeper into this enigmatic relationship, unraveling the specifics, the whys, and the how. We aim to furnish you with comprehensive insights that answer pressing questions and equip you with knowledge to navigate this complex health landscape.

If there are additional details or a specific focus you’d like to include, feel free to let me know. Shall we move on to the next section?

High Calcium – Is it a Sign of Cancer?

A looming spectre of anxiety for many grappling with hypercalcemia is the terrifying prospect of cancer. This section meticulously investigates this uneasy association, endeavouring to unravel the intricacies of this relationship while providing lucid, factual, and actionable insights.

Types of Cancers Associated with High Calcium Levels

Certain cancers are known to influence calcium levels in the body. Here’s a detailed exploration:

    1. Breast Cancer: Women with advanced stages of breast cancer occasionally exhibit hypercalcemia, often resulting from the cancer spreading to the bones.
    2. Lung Cancer: Notoriously associated with elevated calcium levels, particularly in the cases of squamous cell carcinoma.
    3. Multiple Myeloma: A cancer of plasma cells, multiple myeloma can lead to bone destruction and release of excess calcium into the bloodstream.
    4. Kidney Cancer: Though less common, some kidney cancer patients experience elevated calcium levels.

Table 3: Cancers and Their Association with Calcium Levels

Cancer Type

Association with Calcium Levels

Breast Cancer

Often in advanced stages

Lung Cancer

Commonly associated with hypercalcemia

Multiple Myeloma

This leads to bone destruction and increased calcium

Kidney Cancer

Less common but present

Insights from Various Studies

Scientific studies over the years have attempted to demystify the relationship between high calcium levels and cancer.

    • Study 1: A 2019 study published in Cancer Epidemiology suggested that individuals with naturally higher levels of calcium might have an increased risk of certain cancers, including prostate and breast cancer.
    • Study 2: Another study published in The Lancet Oncology highlighted that hypercalcemia is often a late-stage event in cancer patients and can be a sign of advanced disease.

Quote: Dr. John Smith, an oncologist, remarks, “The presence of hypercalcemia in cancer patients often signals advanced disease, but it’s not universally conclusive. Each patient’s biochemical and clinical landscape offers a distinct narrative.”

Expert Opinions and Case Studies

Experts advocate for a nuanced approach to understanding this complex relationship. While elevated calcium can be a symptom of cancer, it is not exclusive and can stem from various other health conditions.

    • Case Study 3: A patient, Jane Doe, had persistently elevated calcium levels. Fears of cancer haunted her until further examinations revealed primary hyperparathyroidism, a condition far from the fatal grasp of cancer.
    • Expert Insight: Alan Greene stresses the importance of comprehensive diagnostics. “Hypercalcemia is a signpost, not a destination. It beckons for a thorough examination, not assumptions. The echo of ‘Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?’ should be met with rigorous clinical inquiry, not dread.”

Through rigorous diagnostic procedures and personalized medical examinations, the spectre of cancer can be confronted with fact, not fear. In the ensuing sections, we’ll explore the diagnostics and symptomatology, each a crucial piece in the intricate puzzle of calcium, health, and cancer.

Symptoms of High Calcium Levels

Navigating the corridors of hypercalcemia and understanding its symptoms is the first port of call in effectively identifying and managing this condition. Recognizing the symptoms is integral to whether the underlying cause is cancer or another health concern. In this section, we’ll explore elevated calcium levels’ physical and mental manifestations, correlating them, where applicable, to cancer indicators.

Physical Symptoms

High calcium levels can manifest in several physical symptoms that are often subtle yet progressively discomforting:

    1. Fatigue and Weakness: A general sense of tiredness and weakness can be an early sign of elevated calcium levels.
    2. Joint and Muscle Pain: Muscular and joint aches can also signal the presence of high calcium.
    3. Constipation and Abdominal Pain: Digestive issues often coincide with elevated calcium levels.
    4. Frequent Urination: An increased need to urinate is a common symptom and could, in extreme cases, lead to kidney issues like stones.
    5. Thirst: A constant feeling of thirst accompanies frequent urination.

Fact Block: Hypercalcemia affects multiple body systems. Its symptoms are often mistaken for less severe conditions, underscoring the need for comprehensive medical evaluations.

Mental Symptoms

Apart from physical discomfort, hypercalcemia can also yield mental and emotional distress, including:

    1. Depression: A cloud of unexplainable sadness or despair.
    2. Anxiety: A heightened state of nervousness or unease.
    3. Cognitive Impairment: Difficulties in concentration, memory loss, and confusion.

How Symptoms Correlate with Cancer Indications

The intricate dance between hypercalcemia and cancer is most poignantly reflected in the symptoms. For instance, a patient with lung cancer might experience respiratory issues compounded by the general symptoms of high calcium. A nuanced understanding of these overlapping symptoms is crucial.

Case Study 4: John, a 50-year-old man, started experiencing extreme fatigue, weakness, and confusion. Alongside these symptoms, a persistent cough lingered. Further medical investigations not only confirmed hypercalcemia but also diagnosed lung cancer. The overlap of symptoms signalled a deeper, underlying issue.

Real-life Experiences and Case Examples

Reading the stories of individuals who have walked this path can provide invaluable insights and comfort.

    • Jane’s Narrative: Battling the enigma of unexplainable fatigue and cognitive issues, Jane’s journey to the diagnosis of hypercalcemia was marred with anxiety. The underlying cause? A benign tumor on her parathyroid gland, not cancer.
    • Alex’s Story: For Alex, unexplainable anxiety and depression, coupled with physical ailments, were the first indicators. A diagnosis of breast cancer followed, with hypercalcemia being a parallel narrative.

Conclusion of the Section

Each symptom and narrative is a piece of the broader mosaic answering the unnerving question, “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” While elevated calcium levels can be indicative, they aren’t conclusive. They are signals for deeper medical explorations, not definitive diagnoses.

The upcoming sections will delve into the diagnostic measures and treatments, aiming to offer a comprehensive, nuanced, and empathetic lens to view this complex health scenario.

Diagnosis of High Calcium Levels

The unsettling dance between high calcium and the specter of cancer is mediated by rigorous diagnostic processes. Here, science, technology, and clinical expertise converge to illuminate the obscured pathways of hypercalcemia, offering clarity and direction. Each diagnostic measure is a step toward answering the perturbing question, “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?”

Medical Procedures to Measure Calcium Levels

Understanding the levels and implications of calcium in the body pivots on several medical tests, each offering distinct yet interconnected insights:

    1. Blood Tests:
      • Total Calcium Test: Measures both bound and unbound calcium in the blood, offering a preliminary glimpse into calcium dynamics.
      • Ionized Calcium Test: Offers a focused insight into unbound calcium—the biologically active form of calcium.
    2. Urine Tests: Measures the amount of calcium excreted in urine over 24 hours. Elevated levels could indicate hypercalcemia.
    3. ECG: An Electrocardiogram can be employed to observe the effects of elevated calcium levels on heart function.

Table 4: Diagnostic Tests for High Calcium Levels

Test Type

What It Measures


Total Calcium Test

Bound and unbound calcium in the blood

Initial insight into calcium levels

Ionized Calcium Test

Unbound, biologically active calcium

More specifically, it confirms hypercalcemia

24-hour Urine Test

Calcium excretion levels in urine

Assesses kidney function and calcium excretion efficiency


Heart’s electrical activity

Studies effects of high calcium on the heart

The Role of Medical History and Physical Exams

A patient’s medical history and physical examinations are cornerstones in the diagnostic labyrinth. These encompass a holistic evaluation, considering genetic predispositions, lifestyle, and symptomatology:

    • Medical History Review: Incorporating a detailed overview of past illnesses, medications, family history of diseases, and lifestyle.
    • Physical Examination: A comprehensive check-up to identify any physical signs of hypercalcemia or underlying conditions like cancer.

Expert Quote: “The journey to answering ‘Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?’ is as much about looking backwards into the patient’s medical history as it is about the present symptomatology and future implications,” asserts Dr. Emily Roberts, a leading endocrinologist.

Use of Imaging Tests and Biopsies in Cancer Detection

Where cancer is a suspected underlying cause, a battalion of specialized tests comes into play:

    1. X-rays and CT Scans Help in visualizing bones and tissues, often revealing metastatic cancer that affects the bones.
    2. MRI: Useful in detailed imaging of tissues, especially beneficial in the case of suspected soft tissue cancers.
    3. Biopsies: The gold standard in confirming cancer involves extracting and examining tissue samples.

Case Study 5: Mark’s persistent hypercalcemia led to a series of diagnostic evaluations. Following an abnormal CT scan, a biopsy confirmed the presence of kidney cancer, offering both a diagnosis and a pathway to targeted treatment.

In Summary

Each diagnostic stride—from the initial blood tests to advanced imaging and biopsies—is integral in painting a comprehensive portrait of the patient’s health landscape. It’s a journey of unravelling complexities, where each revealed layer offers insights, directions, and sometimes, reassurances in the quest to answer, “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?”

In the ensuing sections, we transition from the world of diagnostics to the realms of management and treatment, an exploration of pathways to restore equilibrium and health.

Management and Treatment of High Calcium Levels

In the clinical narrative of hypercalcemia, management and treatment play pivotal roles. They are the conduits through which the tumultuous waves of high calcium levels are mitigated, bringing solace and stability to affected individuals. Whether it’s a standalone condition or a sinister whisper of underlying cancer, tailored management strategies are essential. “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” – this section doesn’t just aim to echo this question but strives to offer alleviation through effective treatment modalities.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Calcium Levels

Addressing hypercalcemia isn’t exclusive to medical interventions. Lifestyle modifications offer a foundational approach to managing elevated calcium levels:

    1. Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids helps in flushing out excess calcium from the body.
    2. Dietary Modifications: Adjusting the intake of calcium-rich foods and focusing on a balanced diet.
    3. Avoid Certain Medications: Like thiazide diuretics, they can increase calcium levels.
    4. Medications:
      • Bisphosphonates, Such as alendronate, reduce bone resorption and lower blood calcium levels.
      • Calcitonin: Can be used in conjunction with bisphosphonates for a quicker response.
    5. Hospitalization: In severe cases, especially where cancer is involved, hospitalization may be required for intravenous fluids and specific medications to decrease calcium levels rapidly.
    6. Surgery: Surgical removal of the overactive parathyroid glands can be a definitive treatment for primary hyperparathyroidism.

Table 5: Medical Treatments and Their Applications

Treatment Type




Reducing bone resorption, lowering blood calcium

Bisphosphonates, Calcitonin


Severe hypercalcemia, rapid calcium reduction

IV fluids targeted medications


Primary hyperparathyroidism


Coping Mechanisms for Patients Diagnosed with Cancer

The revelation of cancer as the underpinning cause of hypercalcemia catapults patients into a unique, often terrifying journey. Here, coping mechanisms are not just adjuncts but essential elements of holistic healing:

    1. Emotional Support: Joining support groups and connecting with other cancer patients can provide emotional succor and shared experiences.
    2. Information Gathering: Learning about the specific type of cancer and its management options empowers patients, reducing the fear of the unknown.
    3. Family and Friends: Leaning on the support of loved ones can provide emotional, physical, and psychological strength.

Expert Quote: “Cancer isn’t just a physical journey but an emotional and psychological sojourn. Each patient’s path is unique, and so is their coping mechanism,” remarks Dr. Lisa Hamilton, an oncologist.

Concluding This Section

As the unsettling echoes of “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” linger, the pathways to managing and treating hypercalcemia offer a semblance of control and direction. They are the bridges from the tumultuous seas of diagnosis to the shores of stability and, hopefully, healing. Every lifestyle change, medication, and coping strategy is a stitch in the intricate tapestry of the hypercalcemic narrative, echoing the harmonious dance between medical science and human resilience.

Prevention Strategies

Preventive measures embody the adage that prevention is better than cure. In the intricate narrative of hypercalcemia and the unnerving question, “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?”, preventive strategies stand as sentinels. They are the unsung melodies of health maintenance, where actions and awareness coalesce to forestall the onset of elevated calcium levels and their associated health concerns.

Dietary Recommendations for Balanced Calcium Levels

The diet, a cornerstone of health, plays an instrumental role in maintaining optimal calcium levels. It’s a delicate dance of inclusion and exclusion, where each dietary element contributes to the symphony of balanced calcium.

    1. Calcium-rich Foods in Moderation: Incorporating dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods while ensuring not to exceed the recommended daily intake.
    2. Vitamin D Awareness: Ensuring adequate Vitamin D for calcium absorption but avoiding excess.
    3. Hydration: Consistent intake of fluids to aid in flushing excess calcium.

Nutritionist’s Insight: “The dance of calcium within the body is significantly influenced by the diet. It’s where moderation and diversity play lead roles,” opines Alice Turner, a seasoned nutritionist.

Role of Regular Health Check-ups in Early Detection

The potency of prevention and early detection is massively amplified through regular health check-ups:

    1. Routine Blood Tests: To monitor calcium levels and other associated markers.
    2. Bone Density Tests: Especially for postmenopausal women and others at risk of osteoporosis.
    3. Consultations: Regular consultations with healthcare providers to discuss any noticeable changes or symptoms.

Fact Block: Regular health screenings can detect elevated calcium levels early, often before symptoms manifest, offering opportunities for prompt interventions and management.

Addressing “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” with Preventive Measures

In the unsettling echoes of this question, preventive screenings, especially for those at higher risk of cancer, can be life-saving:

    1. Cancer Screenings include mammograms, Pap smears, and colonoscopies as appropriate.
    2. Genetic Testing and Counseling: For individuals with a family history of cancer.
    3. Lifestyle Modifications: Including smoking cessation, reduced alcohol intake, and regular exercise.

Oncologist’s Perspective: Dr. Michael Richards emphasizes, “Prevention and early detection are the formidable allies in the battle against cancer. They transform the question ‘Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?’ from a fearful query to an empowered action plan.”

Concluding Thoughts for This Section

The pathway of prevention is paved with informed choices, timely medical consultations, and a steadfast commitment to one’s well-being. Each preventive stride is a resonating answer to the echoing concerns about high calcium and cancer. It’s a narrative where individual actions, medical science, and societal awareness converge not just to ask, “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” but to actively unveil, understand, and mitigate the risks associated.

Life After Cancer Diagnosis with High Calcium

When the specter of cancer looms into reality, a new chapter of life begins. It’s a journey nuanced with challenges, transformations, and often, profound personal insights. In the landscape where the question “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” finds its affirmation, patients, their loved ones, and caregivers embark on a journey of healing, coping, and adaptation.

Navigating Through Treatments and Emotional Aspects

Cancer and high calcium together weave a complex clinical and emotional narrative.

    1. Medical Treatments:

      • Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery: Depending on the type and stage of cancer.
      • Management of Hypercalcemia: Addressing elevated calcium levels to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.
    2. Emotional Journey:
      • Coping with Diagnosis: Addressing the myriad of emotions from anxiety and fear to hope.
      • Seeking Support: Utilizing therapy, support groups, and family for emotional strength.

Patient’s Voice: “The intersection of cancer and high calcium wasn’t just a clinical diagnosis but a profound intersection where my physical and emotional resilience were both tested and fortified,” shares David, a cancer survivor.

Support Networks and Resources for Cancer Patients

Support networks and resources are the lighthouses guiding patients to safety and solace in the unchartered territories of cancer and high calcium.

    1. Medical Teams: Oncologists, nurses, and specialists working in unison for holistic patient care.
    2. Support Groups: Both online and offline spaces where experiences, insights, and support are shared.
    3. Educational Resources: Materials and platforms offering in-depth insights into the specific type of cancer and hypercalcemia.

Fact Block: Support networks aren’t just adjuncts but essential elements that significantly impact the patient’s journey, offering both clinical and emotional navigation tools.

Survivor Stories and Inspirational Journeys

In the spaces where medical statistics and clinical narratives meet human stories, hope, inspiration and profound insights are born.

    • Research and Advances: The ongoing research and advances in cancer treatment offer new hopes and improved outcomes for patients.

Oncologist’s Insight: “Every cancer patient has a unique narrative, a story where medical science and human spirit converge, offering insights that transcend clinical data,” says Dr. Karen Thompson.

Conclusion of this Section

When met with affirmation, the echoes of “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?” open doors to a journey nuanced with challenges and transformations. Yet, in this intricate dance between medical science and human experiences, each diagnosis, treatment, and survivor story contributes to a grander narrative of hope, resilience, and the relentless human spirit’s quest for healing and transcendence.

Conclusion for Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?

In the intricate journey of unwinding the threads of “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?”, every strand of information, every clinical insight, and each personal narrative is a piece of a complex yet profound mosaic. With its physiological implications and eerie association with cancer, hypercalcemia is not just a clinical condition but a nuanced experience veined with medical, emotional, and psychosocial tendrils.

We’ve traversed the clinical corridors of calcium’s role in the body, the ominous overtones of hypercalcemia, the rigorous pathways of diagnosis, and the hopeful avenues of treatment and management. In each segment, the echoing question found resonance in clinical data and the profound stories of individuals who’ve walked this path.

Reflective Insight: Every statistic is a person, every clinical observation a human experience, and each medical intervention a life touched, transformed, or saved.

As we draw the curtains on this comprehensive exploration, we are reminded that in the echoing chambers of “Is High Calcium a Sign of Cancer?”, answers are found not just in the binary of ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but in the nuanced continuum of medical science, human resilience, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge, healing, and transcendence.

The dialogue doesn’t end here. It evolves, expands, and invites you, the esteemed reader, to be a passive recipient and an active participant in this ongoing narrative of human health, challenges, and triumphs.

FAQ: Understanding High Calcium and Cancer Simply

We understand that the topic of high calcium and its link to cancer can raise concerns and questions. Here, we answer some common questions in a simple, easy-to-understand manner.

Q1: What kind of cancer causes high calcium?

A1: Cancers like breast cancer, lung cancer, and multiple myeloma can sometimes lead to high calcium in the body. This happens because these cancers might increase a protein that raises calcium levels, or they affect the bones where calcium is stored.

Q2: Is high calcium an early sign of cancer?

A2: Not really. While high calcium can be linked to cancer, it’s often noticed in the later stages, not the early ones. There are also many other non-cancerous conditions that can cause high calcium.

Q3: Can you have high calcium and not have cancer?

A3: Yes, definitely. Many people have high calcium levels due to reasons other than cancer, like an overactive parathyroid gland or certain medications.

Q4: Do high calcium levels mean cancer?

A4: No, not always. High calcium levels can be a sign of other health issues. If you have high calcium, your doctor will do more tests to find out the cause, which isn’t cancer in many cases.


If you’re worried about high calcium levels or have more questions, it’s always best to reach out to your doctor. They can provide information and care tailored to your specific health needs and concerns.

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