Studies show more than 90 percent of patients with cancer may experience an increase in the blood’s clotting activity, which can lead to a Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVTs. DVTs can be a life threatening complication which a majority of cancer survivors will face as they wend their way through treatment.
DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in the veins of extremities, usually the lower leg or thigh and sometimes the arm. It can be a hidden complication, but usually causes significant pain and swelling. In addition to the pain, If not treated, a DVT can lead to a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
DVTs are a little discussed complication suffered by cancer survivors, including men treated for prostate cancer.
According to the Coalition to Prevent DVT, 2 million Americans experience a DVT each year, and up to 300,000 of them die when a fragment breaks off and moves to the lungs and blocks a pulmonary artery.
Most people who know about DVTs think that only older people with poor blood circulation need worry about blood clotting. However, cancer can alter the blood’s clotting activity and greatly increases the potential for DVTs.
Cancer often changes the blood’s coagulation properties and puts cancer patients at greater risk of developing blood clots. One study showed that cancer patients were four times more likely than the non-cancerous population to develop a DVT (Venous Thromoembolism and Cancer: Risks and Outcomes, 2003).
Some of the cancers in which there has been an association with abnormal clotting activity include stomach, renal, ovarian, lunch, brain, pancreatic, liver, gallbladder, colon, breast, cervical and prostate cancer.