Blood clotting needs immediate medication attention otherwise it leads to a serious health condition. Cancer patients and even those who are receiving cancer treatments have a higher risk of blood clotting.
Coagulation is a normal physiological phenomenon to clot blood after occurring of bleeding. Platelets in the blood reach with clotting or coagulation factors to produce clots and help heal the broken blood vessels. In our physiology a unique balance maintains between bleeding factors and coagulation factors, so blood inside the blood vessels does not clot.
Blood clotting disorders occur when certain clotting factors are missing or compromised. This causes clots to form inside the body, preventing normal blood flow and causing serious problems.
Blood clots can form and travel to different parts of the body, including:
- Veins are called venous thromboembolism (VTE). When the vein is in the leg, leg, or pelvis, it’s called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Lungs, called pulmonary embolism (PE).
- In a vein.
This is not only very common but also very serious. Characteristics and symptoms of clotting problems People with clotting problems may experience:
- Swelling of an arm or leg on one side of the body
- Pain in the arm or leg where the blood lies • Trouble breathing or chest pain when breathing • Fast heartbeat
- Low oxygen levels
Reducing side effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment. This is called palliative care or supportive care. Tell your healthcare provider immediately about any of these symptoms. Even people with low platelet levels can form a blood clot. Sometimes people don’t realize they have a blood clot until it’s diagnosed during a test.
Causes of coagulation problems
People with cancer have a higher risk of blood clots and clotting disorders. It can be caused by cancer or its treatment. Such risk factors include:
- Cancers of the lung, kidney, brain, digestive system, and female reproductive system such as uterine cancer, and blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma Metastatic cancer, is cancer that has spread to other parts of the body from where it started
- Cancer treatment, including surgery lasting more than 1 hour, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. Medicines called antiangiogenic drugs that block the formation of new blood vessels, such as thalidomide (Synovir, Thalomid) and lenalidomide (Revlimid) may also increase the risk of blood clots.
- Treatment with drugs called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, which help the body make more red blood cells, such as epoetin (Epogen, Eprex, Procrit) and darbepoetin (Aranesp).
- Long-term use of an intravenous catheter or port Blood clots can also be caused by factors other than cancer and its treatment, such as Longer periods of inactivity such as long flights or car rides. This can also be in the hospital as most people in the hospital cannot be physically active and have to stay in bed or cannot get out of bed.
In addition to cancer, there are other diseases or conditions such as obesity, infection, kidney disease, lung disease, or a blood clot in a vein called an artery that carries blood away from the heart.
- Old age.
- race/ethnicity. The risk is higher in blacks and lowers in whites and Asians.
- A hereditary condition, which means it is passed down from parent to child in the family. These include the causative V Leiden mutation, a condition that causes excessive blood clotting.
Diagnose clotting problems
Your doctor may use one or more methods to detect a blood clot, including:
- During the Doppler ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves to control blood flow in veins in the arms or legs. This can mean reduced blood flow from the blood clot.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan takes pictures of the inside of the body using X-rays taken from different angles. A special dye called a contrast agent is injected into the patient’s vein or given as a pill or liquid to be swallowed before the scan to give the image better detail.
Doctors often use a CT scan to diagnose a blood clot in the lung, or PE.
- Lung ventilation / perfusion (VQ). This test for diagnosing PE consists of 2 different parts: o Scans of the airflow ventilation to the lungs o Perfusion scan of the bloodstream to the lungs
- Angiogram. This test detects a blood clot in a vein. During an angiogram, a dye is injected into the artery. And then the artery is examined with a special X-ray device called a fluoroscope.
Prevention and treatment of clotting problems
Blood clots can be prevented and treated with medication. Anticoagulants are drugs that stop clots from swelling or prevent existing clots from getting worse. These drugs may increase the risk of bleeding but are safe for most people. Some of these anticoagulants are taken by mouth. Others are given as an injection under the skin, a so-called subcutaneous injection.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends the following to help prevent blood clots in people with cancer:
- Some people who stay in the hospital may need to take medicines to prevent blood clots. This type of medication is called an anticoagulant. Whether a person should take an anticoagulant may depend on how long they will be in the hospital and whether they are at high risk of bleeding.
- People with multiple myeloma taking antiangiogenics with chemotherapy and/or dexamethasone (various brand names) should take heparin or low-dose aspirin.
- People with large cancers should receive treatment to prevent bleeding after surgery. Treatment should last at least 7 to 10 days or up to 4 weeks depending on the type of surgery and the risk of bleeding.
- People who are at high risk of bleeding but do not stay in the hospital may be given apixaban, rivaroxaban, or some form of heparin. In addition to using medications to prevent bleeding, your doctor may also recommend the following methods:
- Graduated compression stockings are a kind of support hose
- Intermittent pneumatic compression compresses the legs through a cuff attached to the machine
- Mechanical foot pumps