Dec. 3 (UPI) — A popular oral medication used to treat blood clots is safe and effective for patients going through cancer therapy, a study says.

A study presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology shows patients who used apixaban had less major bleeding and fewer recurrent blood clots versus low-molecular-weight heparin injections.

“Nearly 1 in 5 patients with cancer will develop a clot in the veins, referred to as either a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism,” Robert McBane, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, said in a press release. “Clotting events can be deadly with pulmonary embolism being the second most common cause of death in cancer patients.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the exact number of people with diagnosis is unknown, an estimated 900,000 people have deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
Between 60,000 and 100,000 Americans die annually from the condition, the agency reports.

Twice-daily injections of low-molecular-weight heparin are the common, and costly, way doctors treat clots in cancer patients. But doctors think the $100 per day shots can cause bruising at the injection site and put patients at risk for clotting disorder known as heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.

“More recently, a number of new blood thinners called ‘direct oral anticoagulants’ have become available,” says Dr. McBane. “As a class, these drugs have a number of advantages, including oral delivery, lack of interactions with foods or other medications, and the lack of a need for monitoring drug levels.” He says these qualities make this class of drug much easier to use than the traditional blood thinners. However, it was unclear whether these drugs could be used safely in cancer patients until now.”

The researchers say quality of life surveys given to the patients during the six-month trial showed a preference for the oral medication over the injections.

“We are hopeful that this medication will also improve medication compliance in cancer patients requiring blood thinner therapy,” McBane said.

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