Cancer patients largely unaware of thrombosis risk: survey

Almost two out of three cancer patients are unaware that their treatment places them at increased risk of thrombosis, an international survey reveals. 

The ongoing survey [link here] involving 749 cancer patients from 27 countries also found that less than one third of patients had talked to a healthcare professional about primary thromboprophylaxis, an intervention currently recommended by international guidelines for high-risk groups such as people with cancer.

Furthermore, over two-thirds of the survey respondents were not educated on the signs and symptoms of venous thromboembolism (VTE). Among those who were aware of their increased risk, more than 40% were not provided with basic instructions for seeking support or clinical consultation, the survey found. 

According to the authors, the findings showed a pressing need to raise awareness among healthcare professionals about the importance of talking to their patients about cancer associated venous thromboembolism (CAT), noting that some patients and their carers may be distressed by the information given. 

“Failure to adequately intercept and fulfil these needs may result in greater distress, misunderstanding, and reduced compliance,” they wrote in their paper published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. 

The survey findings also pointed to an increasing need to implement thrombo-oncology care pathways,  shared by oncology and thrombosis specialists, patients and their caregivers, the research team said. 

These pathways should encompass CAT education and communication programs, routine assessment of CAT risk, standardised  algorithms  for  the preventive,  diagnostic and therapeutic management of CAT, as  well  as  adequate  psychological  support.

The authors cautioned that the findings should be interpreted  cautiously since the population  surveyed so far, although relatively large and diverse, might not be fully representative  of the general cancer population. 

Nevertheless, information from the ongoing survey would be used to tailor and prioritise patient-centered interventions to reduce the burden of CAT worldwide, they added.

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