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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Blood clot therapies for cancer patients compared

Thursday February 16th, 2012

Researchers have warned of low rates of prescribing for an 'effective' clot-preventing drug in advanced cancer patients.

Low Molecular Weight Heparin (LMWH) is recommended in the USA as the preferred first-line treatment for cancer patients experiencing blood clots, a common and serious complication.

The American College of Chest Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology and National Comprehensive Cancer Network all recommend LMWH treatment for cancer-related blood clots.

Although its popularity increased steadily between 2000 and 2007, the new study shows its use is low compared to the anticoagulant warfarin. In the study, 74 per cent of patients received warfarin-based therapy as a primary treatment for blood clots, compared with just 25 per cent receiving LMWH.

Lead author Dr Tom Delate, of Kaiser Permanente, California, USA, reports in the Oncologist that patient details were taken from electronic health records in the US Cancer Research Network.

"Current medical literature on this topic is limited," he says, "so our findings will add tremendously to this knowledge gap and, hopefully, stimulate discussions on the need for comparative effectiveness research evaluations between blood clot anticoagulation therapies."

He believes that warfarin remains the preferred anti-coagulation therapy because it has a long history of use, high-quality anticoagulation monitoring services, and is available in a tablet form rather than the daily injections needed for LMWH.

The team call for further investigation into the reasons LMWH use is low compared to warfarin, and more research comparing its effectiveness with warfarin in this patient group.

Delate, T. et al. The Oncologist February 2012 (in press).

Tags: Cancer | North America | Pharmaceuticals

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