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Costly blood clots more common than expected among cancer patients
Date:9/20/2011

DURHAM, N.C. An analysis of more than 30,000 cancer patients has shown that blood clots are a more common complication than doctors may realize, causing additional hospitalizations and driving up the cost of care, according to a study led by a Duke Cancer Institute researcher.

The study, which will be reported Sept. 26 at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm, found that as many as one in five patients risk developing a blood clot called venous thromboembolism, or VTE, within a year of getting treatment for some types of cancers.

In up to 2 percent of cases the complication is deadly. Clots that form in veins deep in the legs or pelvis can travel to the arteries of the lungs and block blood flow. VTEs are also costly. Cancer patients who develop the clots require medication and hospitalizations that contribute to an average care bill of $110,362, compared to $77,984 for those who do not have VTEs, the study authors reported.

"Direct medical costs of healthcare are significantly greater among cancer patients experiencing a VTE and still do not include caregiver expenses, out of pocket costs and the intangible costs of pain and suffering," said lead author Gary H. Lyman, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of medicine and director of the Comparative Effectiveness and Outcomes Research Program at Duke.

In conducting the study, Lyman and colleagues analyzed 30,552 cancer cases from the InVision Data Mart Multiplan/ Integrated Health Care Information Solutions, a large cache of data on more than 17 million U.S. medical patients. The records were of ordinary cancer patients, not participants in clinical trials who tend to be enrolled because they have fewer health issues and therefore develop fewer complications.

The researchers focused on diagnoses of lung, pancreatic, stomach, colon/rectum, bladder and ovarian cancers among patients who began chemotherapy during a four-year period ending in 2008.


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Contact: Sarah Avery
sarah.avery@duke.edu
919-660-1306
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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