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Tenovus Cancer Care urges patients to be aware of dangers of cancer-associated thrombosis

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This National Thrombosis Week (1 – 6 May 2017), Tenovus Cancer Care is urging cancer patients and their loved ones to be aware of the dangers of cancer-associated thrombosis, a potentially deadly side effect of chemotherapy.

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is the formation of blood clots in the vein, usually the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT); this may break loose and travel to the lungs, forming a pulmonary embolism (PE). Symptoms include leg pain, swelling, breathlessness, and chest pain, and can lead to death.

Up to 20 percent of cancer patients will be diagnosed with VTE, most frequently in those receiving chemotherapy. VTE remains the commonest cause of chemotherapy related death, second only to cancer progression.

Rhian Edwards, our Director of Research and Support said. “Cancer patients are four times more likely to develop a thrombosis, and the risk increases with chemotherapy, but awareness of the issue and associated symptoms amongst patients is woefully low. It’s vital that cancer patients and the people that care for them know about the signs and symptoms of this potentially deadly condition, and contact their doctor immediately if they have any concerns. 

“This is where the nurses who run our free Support Line provide an invaluable service. They can answer any questions or concerns and help patients recognise if they’re experiencing any symptoms; and where they do, we can immediately get them seen by a medical professional.” 

Cancer patients can reduce their risk of cancer-associated thrombosis by following these simple guidelines:

  • Exercise gently and often: for example, walking to the shops or doing housework
  • Change position and move your legs regularly if you’re sitting or lying down for a long period of time
  • Stop smoking: Tenovus Cancer Care offers free support to anyone who wants to quit
  • Drink plenty of fluids, avoiding coffee and alcohol

In partnership with patient groups Thrombosis UK and Anticoagulation Europe, we've supported the development of a patient information video, “Cancer, Chemo and Clots”, a bilingual version of which has been produced for launch in Wales. Using a grant from us, Professor Simon Noble of Cardiff University will investigate whether this intervention improves meaningful outcomes for patients receiving chemotherapy. The results of the study will make a difference to the lives of cancer patients across the world.

Blood Clots, Cancer and You from anticoagulation uk on Vimeo.

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, we can offer help and support. Our free Support Line is open 365 days a year from 8am-8pm. Call 0808 808 1010.

National Thombosis Week runs from 1st–6th May 2017.