The significance of VTE in cancer: Introduction of the ‘Spot the CLOT’ series

Laurie A. Sardo, Julia A. Bayadinova, Susan Jenkins, Lynne Penton


Learning needs of patients with cancer have been examined and published widely in oncology nursing literature. However, the topic of cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT) is rarely considered a necessary inclusion.

Awareness by individuals with cancer about venous thromboembolism (VTE) and its association with cancer is low (Aggarwal et al., 2015). A 2015 qualitative study by Dr. Simon Noble revealed that high-risk cancer patients receiving active chemotherapy knew more about febrile neutropenia than signs and symptoms of VTE, despite a higher absolute risk of VTE. This is concerning given that CAT is the number one cause of death for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Awareness of CAT is generally low not only in patients and their families, but also in healthcare providers. Research has found that many patients diagnosed with CAT perceived a significant knowledge deficit in their treating physicians because alternative diagnoses were considered before CAT, despite classic signs and symptoms of VTE (Noble et al., 2015).

VTE is a common and often severe complication in cancer patients, being the leading cause of morbidity and second leading cause of mortality (Noble et al., 2015). Despite its significance, however, the awareness of CAT is low in patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. This article is the first in a series entitled, ‘Spot the CLOT’, which is aimed at promoting the awareness of CAT in oncology nurses with the goal of improving patient education on this important topic.

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