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Men with prostate cancer are at a higher risk for several types of thromboembolic diseases (blood clots), with men undergoing endocrine therapy having the highest risk, according to the results of a study published in the Lancet Oncology.[1]

In general, cancer is considered a risk factor for thromboembolic disease. In fact, cancer patients are considered four times more likely to develop a blood clot than individuals without cancer.[2] Prostate cancer appears to be associated with a higher number of blood clot events, even though it is not considered one of the highest-risk cancers for clots.

Researchers in Sweden performed an analysis of data from 76,600 men with prostate cancer from the Swedish National Prostate Cancer Register. The men were treated with primary endocrine therapy (30,642), curative treatment (26,432), or surveillance (19,526). The data revealed 1,881 thromboembolic events. In all three treatment groups, there was an increased risk for deep-venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism but not arterial embolism. Men receiving endocrine therapy had the highest risk of DVT, though this risk was smaller among men treated with anti-androgens than among those treated with other types of endocrine treatment.

The underlying reasons for the increased risk of clots are unclear. They could be related to the prostate cancer, the treatment, or some other underlying cause. The researchers suggest that physicians should consider the potential for blood clots when treating patients for prostate cancer, especially if they are using endocrine treatment.

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[1] Van Hemelrijck M, Adolfsson J, Garmo H, et al. Risk of thromboembolic diseases in men with prostate cancer: Results from the population-based PCBaSe Sweden. Lancet Oncology [early online publication]. April 14, 2010.

[2] Heit JA, Silverstein MD, Mohr DN, et al. Risk factors for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism: A population-based case-control study. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2000; 160: 809-815.

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