Blood clot risk high in cancer–new blood thinner found

Both bad news and good news came in the same batch of American Medical Association information this morning. Patients with malignancies are at least 7 times more likely in the first months after diagnosis to suffer blood clots in the legs or lungs than those without. If it’s a blood-related cancer, the likelihood skyrockets to 28 times, according to this Dutch study. Seems that surgery and chemotherapy used to treat cancer also increase the likelihood of clotting.

Happily, a new anti-clotting drug called ximelagatran was found in another study to be better at reducing clot formation while also being less intrusive to administer (patients simply take a pill instead of having injections). The U.S. hasn’t approved use of this new drug yet; effects of the liver have not yet been sufficiently gauged.

One step forward, two steps back. Medicine takes an endless succession of potshots–many with unknown consequences–at cancer. Cancers shoot back when the treatments are too strong…when they destroy pieces and parts of the human system needed for other purposes.

It’s a dance without end, and our place in the timeline simply a matter of chance. If you have cancer today, you have multiple treatment options that didn’t exist for a grandmother with the same disease. And happily, our great-grandchildren will probably have a nearly unimaginable number of options. Let us look forward to the day this dance can end.