A common condition for lung cancer survivors, and one that affects over a million Americans (killing 100,000 yearly), is receiving special attention from our surgeon general. Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Steven K. Galston MD, MPH, has presented a call to action to prevent deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
Blood clots (deep venous thrombosis) affect between 3 and 15% of individuals living with lung cancer, and for those with non-small cell lung cancer, their presence increases the risk of dying 1.7 fold. Yet, with an awareness of the risks and symptoms to watch for, these statistics would not have to appear so dismal.
During lung cancer treatment, the risk of blood clots is increased by procedures such as surgery or chemotherapy, as well as physical factors like inactivity and traveling for treatment. Things as simple as exercising your lower legs, making frequent stops to get up and move during travel, and staying well hydrated can lower you risk.
Not everyone has symptoms when they develop a blood clot, but signs to watch for can include redness, swelling, or a cramping pain in one of your legs. If a clot breaks off, it can lead to pulmonary embolism, a medical emergency accompanied by symptoms such as chest pain that worsens with a deep breath, sudden onset of shortness of breath, or fainting.
Familiarize yourself with the common symptoms of blood clots (DVT’s), and learn what you can do to lower your risk of this altogether too common complication of lung cancer: