February 21, 2012

Reducing the Risk of a Chemo Side Effect

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- Patients who are receiving chemotherapy for cancer are at risk for venous thromboembolism.  Now, researchers show how a new treatment may help.

In a double blind study the effectiveness and safety of ultra-low-molecular-weight heparin semuloparin was tested in the prevention of venous thromboembolism in patients with metastatic or locally advanced solid tumors who are just starting to receive chemotherapy.

The results showed that venous thromboemeolism occurred in 20 out of 1608 patients after receiving semuloparin for approximately 3.5 months. This was compared with 55 of 1604 receiving placebo (hazard ratio, 0.36; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.21 to 0.60; P<0.001), with consistent efficacy among subgroups defined according to the origin and stage of cancer and the baseline risk of venous thromboembolism. The incidence of clinically relevant bleeding was 2.8% and 2.0% in the semuloparin and placebo groups, respectively (hazard ratio, 1.40; 95% CI, 0.89 to 2.21). Major bleeding occurred in 19 of 1589 patients (1.2%) receiving semuloparin and 18 of 1583 (1.1%) receiving placebo (hazard ratio, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.55 to 1.99). Occurrences of all other conflicting events were similar in the two study groups.

The researchers concluded that semuloparin reduces the frequency of thromboembolic events in patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer, with unlikely increase in major bleeding.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, February 2012