What is a blood clot?
Blood clot or thrombus is a serious condition that needs urgent treatment. Cancer patients and those receiving cancer treatment have an increased risk for blood clots.
Normal blood clotting involves specialized blood cells (platelets, and different proteins in the blood), called clotting or coagulation factors. These platelets and coagulation factors clump together to heal broken blood vessels and control bleeding. Balance coagulation factors promote bleeding and clotting.
Blood clotting disorders occur when some clotting factors are missing or damaged. It causes clots to form inside the body to block normal blood flow and cause serious problems. Blood clots can occur in and travel to different body parts (vein, lungs, artery).
How bad is my blot clot?
Mild: It involves superficial thrombosis (a blood clot that occurs in veins under the skin). You may have nausea, vomiting, pain, swelling and redness around the site of the clot.
Moderate: It involves deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot that occurs in a deep vein). You may experience pain and swelling.
Severe: It includes pulmonary embolism (a sudden blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs) or intra-cardiac thrombus (a blood clot in the heart). You may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, slurred speech and drooped mouth. It requires urgent medical assistance is indicated.
How to manage a mild blood clot?
- Be physically active
- Get back to activity as soon as possible after surgery
- Exercise your legs during long trips
- Quit smoking
- Lose weight
- Manage other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
How to manage moderate and severe blood clot?
Call your doctor right away if you notice leg pain or swelling and:
- Sudden coughing, which may bring up blood
- Sharp chest pain or chest tightness
- Pain in your shoulder, arm, back, or jaw
- Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain when you breathe
- Severe light-headedness
- Fast heartbeat
What causes blood clot?
- Cancers of the lung, kidney, brain, digestive system, female reproductive system (uterine cancer), and blood (leukemia and lymphoma)
- Metastatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body from where it started
- Cancer treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy).
- Anti-angiogenic drugs that block the formation of new blood vessels (thalidomide and lenalidomide) may also raise the risk of blood clots.
- Treatment with erythropoiesis stimulating agents (epoetin and darbepoetin)
- Long-term use of an intravenous catheter or port
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