Cancer Treatment - New Method Helps Predict and Prevent Blood Clots

A study recently published in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology, outlined a new enhanced risk model to predict likelihood of blood clots developing in cancer patients, who are more likely to develop venous thromboembolism (VTE) due to a hyperactive blood coagulation system. Around 20 percent of all cancer patients develop VTE, which involves the formation of blood clots in the veins, although the severity of the condition varies amongst cancer patients.

The lead author of this study, Ingrid Pabinger, MD, Professor at the Medical University of Vienna commented on the study: “Because the risk of VTE is not equal in all cancer patients and anticoagulation in cancer patients results in a higher risk of bleeding complications, categorizing cancer patients according to their VTE risk is important.” While patients at a higher risk of developing VTE could benefit immensely from anticoagulation treatment aimed at reducing the likelihood of blood clotting, the same treatment could be counterproductive in patients at a lower risk of developing VTE, due to an increased risk of bleeding.

This enhanced risk model considers factors taken into account by previous models designed to predict the likelihood of cancer patients developing VTE, such as the patients body mass index, the site of the cancer, their platelet and leukocyte counts, as well as their hemoglobin level. However, this model also considers two other important factors, which helps to identify whether the cancer patient is at a high risk of developing VTE or not – the presence of soluble P-selectin (sP-selectin), a cell adhesion molecule that increases the chances of blood clots forming, and D-dimer, a protein present in blood.

The co-author of this study, Cihan Ay, MD, a Hematology Fellow at the Clinical Division of Hematology and Hemostaseology at the Medical University of Vienna, commented on the enhanced risk model: “Our expanded model demonstrates that cancer patients at a very high risk of VTE can be defined more precisely. This new model can help clinicians tailor their anticoagulant therapy and improve blood clotting prevention, which will maximize the clinical benefit and cost-effectiveness of disease prevention and minimize the risk of bleeding complications.”

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