Researchers in Ankara, Turkey have just released a new study on the increased risk of thromboembolic events (TEEs) in patients with malignant mesothelioma. TEEs can occur when a blood clot (thrombus) breaks loose and travels through the blood stream to clog another vessel. Mesothelioma patients are at higher risk for the problem which can lead to strokes, heart attacks, blood clot in the lung (pulmonary thromboembolism), deep vein thrombosis and even death.
The Turkish study included 178 mesothelioma patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma between January 2008 and June 2014. In all, 14 (7.9%) of the patients experienced TEEs. Two of these events triggered heart attacks and the remaining 12 were equally divided between deep vein thrombosis (in the legs) and pulmonary thromboembolism.
Although a small percentage of the TEEs occurred before the patients were diagnosed with mesothelioma, most occurred after diagnosis. The rate of TEEs in these mesothelioma patients wasn’t affected by the type of mesothelioma they had or by the stage of their disease. It did not even appear to be impacted by whether or not the patients also had thrombocytosis, an elevated platelet count that can raise the risk for TEEs.
A 2008 study in the Annals or Thoracic Surgery found an even higher rate of TEEs among mesothelioma patients. In that study 27.7% of patients experienced TEEs – a figure the study’s authors believed to be lower than the actual rate.
The risk of blood clots and TEEs can be reduced with certain medications, which is why some mesothelioma patients are prescribed blood thinners such as heparin or warfarin. If you or a family member suffers from mesothelioma, your doctor can help you evaluate whether you could benefit from an anticoagulant medication to reduce your risk for TEEs.
Koksal, D, et al, “Thromboembolic Events in malignant Pleural Mesothelioma”, December 18, 2014, Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis, Epub ahead of print
Nguyen, D, et al, “Rate of thromboembolic events in mesothelioma”, March 2008, Annals of Thoracic Surgery, pp. 1032-1038