Many oncologists unaware of cancer clot risk

September 11, 2003

Patients receiving cancer treatments are at greater risk of blood clots, yet more than a quarter of oncologists do not recognise their clotting effects and preventive measures are rarely used, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers in Manchester surveyed 106 oncologists in northern England. The most common treatment was chemotherapy, used by 39% of oncologists, 9% used hormone therapy, and 42% used radiotherapy.

A total of 29 (27%) thought their patients were not at risk of venous thromboembolism (blockage of a blood vessel by a blood clot) regardless of the type of tumour treated.

Seventy-one oncologists believed that hormone therapy posed little or no increased risk to patients, 83 thought the same for chemotherapy and 96 for radiotherapy.

Of the 106 respondents, 84 reported not routinely using prophylaxis, such as aspirin or warfarin, in chemotherapy, 79 in hormone therapy, and 86 in radiotherapy. A total of 19 oncologists never used prophylaxis for venous thromboembolism.

The good response rate to this questionnaire demonstrates a reliable representation of current practice in the north of England, say the authors. National guidelines on prophylaxis for venous thromboembolism during cancer treatment are needed, they conclude.
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BMJ

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