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Pulmonary embolism from thrombosis: one of the most common causes of death in cancer patients
According to health experts, hundreds of thousands of people develop thrombosis in Germany every year. If left untreated, it can result in, among other things, pulmonary embolism, which can sometimes be fatal. What many people don't know is that thrombosis can also indicate a tumor.
Mutual relationship between tumor diseases and thrombosis
The diagnosis of cancer is a stroke of fate for all concerned, the therapy is enormously expensive. But that's not all: the tumor disease also increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In addition, 20 percent of cancer patients develop an additional thrombosis in the course of their illness. The relationship between tumor diseases and thrombosis is, however, reciprocal: because a tumor disease is also discovered in 20 percent of all thrombosis cases.
Old age as the main risk factor
Age is the main risk factor for thrombosis. This creates a blood clot (thrombus), which can narrow or completely block a vessel.
If this clot is washed into the lungs, it can cause pulmonary embolism, which is often fatal.
According to health experts, the risk increases significantly from the age of 60.
People with varicose veins, lung or heart disease, as well as smokers, overweight people, and women who take certain birth control pills also have an increased risk of thrombosis.
First evidence of a tumor
The risk of thrombosis also increases with cancer. As the Thrombosis Alliance of Action explains in a communication on World Thrombosis Day, around 20 percent of all thrombosis cases involve a tumor.
Prof. Rupert Bauersachs, angiologist and head of the thrombosis alliance, therefore appeals: "People over the age of 50 who experience a thromboembolic event without a trigger require a more detailed anamnesis and should definitely have appropriate preventive examinations carried out."
According to the expert, family doctors, angiologists and phlebologists are particularly in demand here, "ie those who are usually the first to see the patients."
The communication of the German Society for Angiology - Society for Vascular Medicine e.V., published by the Science Information Service (idw), also explains why the risk of thrombosis in cancer is increased:
A tumor disease therefore increases the blood's ability to clot. That means the blood clots faster. The more aggressive the tumor growth, the higher the risk of thrombosis.
For this reason, deep vein thrombosis and superficial vein thrombosis are often the first signs of a tumor.
Undetected thrombosis quickly becomes a life-threatening condition. "Their secondary disease, pulmonary embolism, is one of the most common causes of death in cancer patients," explains Prof. Hanno Riess, oncologist and hematologist from the Charité in Berlin.
Thrombosis prophylaxis is less effective because there are often several strong risk factors such as surgery, bedriddenness, chemotherapy, radiation or infections.
The thrombosis alliance therefore calls for special sensitivity in these patients.
Treatment must be based on the guidelines
"The thrombosis therapy of an oncological patient is an individual decision of the attending doctor after consultation with the patient," said Prof. Rupert Bauersachs.
"The type of tumor and the treatment, the risk of bleeding and the distinction between stable and unstable condition play an important role in this."
The thrombosis alliance campaigns for a uniform and interdisciplinary therapy scheme for cancer patients suffering from thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
The fact that there is no uniform therapy regimen in most clinics is reflected in the differences in the discharge letters. The consequences of inadequate prophylaxis or therapy can be devastating, according to the experts.
Action day contributes to education
October 13th is World Thrombosis Day. This day, organized by the International Society for Thrombosis and Hemostasis Research (ISTH), is about raising awareness of thrombosis and pulmonary embolism worldwide.
The Thrombosis Alliance is the official partner of ISTH in Germany.
"Many people underestimate the risk of thrombosis," said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, who supports the activities of the Thrombosis Alliance.
"That is why more information about the origin and possibilities of prevention and therapy is very important."
According to the experts, over 40,000 people die in Germany every year as a result of pulmonary embolism. That is more deaths than traffic accidents, breast and prostate cancer and HIV combined.
The most common cause of this is thrombosis. This can affect people of all ages. Just over 370,000 new cases of thrombosis, phlebitis and thrombophlebitis are registered each year. Around 50,000 people develop pulmonary embolism each year. (ad)