Risk Factors

High platlet counts raise suspicion of cancer

Saturday, 3 Jun 2017


Thrombocytosis appears to be a marker for cancer risk, particularly lung and colorectal cancer in adults from 40 years of age, new research suggests.

A large UK study of 40,000 patients found 11.6% of males and 6.2% of females with an initial high platelet count (>400 x109/L) went on to develop cancer in the following year.

This compared to 4.1% of males and 2.2% of females from 10,000 matched controls with platelet counts in the normal range.

A repeat high platelet count within six months further increased the cancer rate to 18.1% in men and 10.1% in women.

The study found a third of the patients with thrombocytosis who developed cancer had no other symptoms of malignancy.

The finding raises the possibility of an earlier diagnosis if clinicians have a high degree of suspicion of cancer in these patients and routinely investigate high platelet counts.

The researchers said if only ‘5% of patients with cancer have thrombocytosis before diagnosis, one third of them have the potential to have their diagnosis expedited by at least 3 months; this equates to 5500 earlier diagnoses annually’.

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