WEDNESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A new blood-thinning medication called semuloparin reduces the risk of blood clots in people undergoing certain cancer treatments, new research shows.
When people with cancer are treated with chemotherapy, they have an increased risk of developing blood clots (venous thromboembolism). These clots can be dangerous, and have the potential to cause heart attacks or strokes.
This new drug reduced the risk of blood clots by 64 percent, according to the study, which was funded by Sanofi, the drug's manufacturer. Sanofi was also responsible for the analysis of the study's results.
Semuloparin, which is not currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, didn't appear to increase the risk of excessive bleeding, which can be a side effect of blood thinners.
"Thromboembolism and the effects are very significant," said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Even if blood clots don't cause life-threatening complications, they can cause lifelong problems, such as pain and a decreased ability to exercise, she explained.
"What's interesting about this paper is that they're decreasing the rate of thromboembolism without increasing bleeding. This needs to be confirmed in other studies, but this drug may play an important role for cancer patients in the future," said Bernik, who was not involved with the research.
The current study included more than 3,000 people from 47 countries. All had been diagnosed with cancer, including cancers of the lung, pancreas, stomach, colon, rectum, bladder or ovary.
The study volunteers were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received treatment with semuloparin, which is a type of heparin, while they were undergoing chemotherapy. The other group received a placebo.
The medication or the placebos were given as an inj
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