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

Among those in the study group, the risk of developing a VTE within 3.5 months of starting treatment varied widely depending on the type of cancer diagnosed. Bladder cancer carried the lowest risk, at 4.8 percent, and pancreatic cancer had the highest risk, at 11.9 percent. (Colon/rectum 6.1 percent; ovary 6.2 percent; lung 8.5 percent; stomach 8.5 percent)

After a year of treatment, risks nearly doubled across many of the six cancer types, with 9.9 percent of bladder cancer patients and 21.5 percent of pancreatic cancer patients developing clots. (Colon/rectum 11.9 percent; ovary 11.4 percent; lung 14.8 percent; stomach 16.7 percent)

Lyman said scientist don't fully understand why VTEs form during cancer treatment, but have identified certain contributing factors, including blood clotting agents released by tumors, side effects of chemotherapy, and pre-existing health conditions such as obesity and anemia.

He said knowing which patients are at highest risk of developing blood clots could lead to better preventive use of blood thinners. But the preventive use of blood thinners comes with its own risk of potentially dangerous bleeding. A risk score for identifying high risk patients for VTE is based on the type of cancer they have and the other known contributing factors.

"We need more data from randomized control trials in the higher risk populations that would demonstrate a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio from such preventive measures," Lyman said. "Further studies are also needed on the complications of cancer treatment and the associated costs in real-life cancer patients to guide future clinical decisions and more personalized supportive care in patients starting cancer chemotherapy."


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

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