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Blood clot risk 'high' for men with prostate cancer

A recent British study has found that men with prostate cancer have more than double the chances of suffering from thromboembolism.

Thromboembolism is a condition in which blood clot ("thrombus") forms and then breaks off and travels through the bloodstream to another part of the body such as legs or lungs.

Researchers from Kings College London, United Kingdom, wrote in the journal, The Lancet Oncology, that the risk was further increased for men undergoing endocrine therapy, also called hormone therapy or hormone treatment.

Blood clots are a known hazard linked to cancer
Past studies show that the risk of blood clots is four times higher in people with cancer than the general population, although the reasons are not clear.

However, the recent study is the first to investigate in detail the risk of blood clots in men with prostate cancer.

Clotting and prostate cancer link studied
For the study, lead author of the study, Mieke Van Hemelrijck from King’s College London, UK, and team studied more than 76,000 Swedish men suffering from prostate cancer and receiving different types of treatments (curative treatment, hormone therapy or surveillance) between 1997 and 2007. They then compared them with Swedish men from the general population.

26,432 Swedish men underwent curative treatment, normally surgery, 30,642 men received hormone therapy, and 19,526 received surveillance. A total of 1,881 thromboembolic events were reported.

The two main types of blood clots linked to prostate cancer were deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which chiefly affects the legs, and pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal lung clot.

3 treatment groups at risk of DVT and pulmonary embolism
The authors found that males with prostate cancer were more likely to develop blood clots than men without prostate cancer. Also, the three different groups of treatment were at higher risk of DVT and life threatening pulmonary embolism, but not arterial embolism.

Subjects who were receiving hormone therapy were two-and-a-half times more likely to have deep vein thrombosis than the general population, and nearly two times as likely to experience a pulmonary embolism, a potentially lethal lung clot. The increased risk was especially high for younger men with advanced disease.

The participants who received curative treatment, the risk doubled for pulmonary embolism and 1.73 times higher for DVT. Men on surveillance were also more likely to suffer both types of clot to a lesser degree.

The researchers also suggested that the incidence of cancer and the treatments employed to treat it are both risk factors for thromboembolism.

"Our findings indicate that it is important to consider thromboembolic side-effects when treating patients with prostate cancer, especially those who require endocrine treatment," the authors concluded.

Before thinking about changing treatment, patients must consult doctor first, researchers advised.

Approximately 35,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United Kingdom annually and more than 10,000 die every year.

The finding of the study has been published in the journal The Lancet Oncology.