Cancer Outpatients at Greater Risk for Blood
MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients receiving
chemotherapy most often develop blood clots after they are
discharged from the hospital, according to a large new study.
Efforts to prevent this common and potentially life-threatening
complication of cancer treatment should focus on outpatients -- not
those still in the hospital, the researchers said.
A blood clot, also called a venous thromboembolism (VTE), is a
mass of red blood cells, clotting proteins and platelets that block
the flow of blood. Once cancer patients develop one clot, they're
much more likely to develop others, according to a news release
from the University of Rochester Medical Center.
"One in five patients develops blood clots after a cancer diagnosis and we believe that number is rising," study author Dr. Alok Khorana, an associate professor in the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at URMC, said in the release.
After examining nearly 18,000 cancer patients over four years,
the researchers found that of the 5.6 percent who developed blood
clots, 78 percent were receiving treatment as outpatients.
The retrospective, observational study is slated for
presentation Monday at the American Society of Hematology annual
meeting in San Diego. Data and conclusions should be viewed as
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"The Surgeon General recently issued a Call to Action to reduce VTE. At this point public health efforts have focused on inpatient prophylaxis. These new data suggest that to reduce the burden of VTE in cancer patients, prevention efforts will have to shift to the outpatient arena as well," Khorana said.
Doing so would reduce health care costs, the researchers
Cancer patients need more information on blood clots, they also
"Ongoing public health issues that we must address are how to educate patients on the importance of blood clot prevention, and improving compliance to preventive treatment," Khorana said. "Patients should immediately report to their physicians any unusual symptoms such as swelling or redness in limbs, or shortness of breath, even if they are otherwise feeling well."
The U.S. National Cancer Institute provides more information on
treatment of cancer.
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