Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Low molecular weight heparin use in cancer treatment

Date:
February 15, 2012
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
Researchers suggest conclusive answers to key questions on the benefits of low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) for cancer patients remain elusive - despite promising results from large studies.

For decades, the blood thinner heparin has been used to prevent and treat blood clots. Could it be just as effective in treating cancer?

In an editorial published February 15 in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from McMaster University and the University at Buffalo suggest conclusive answers to key questions on the benefits of low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) for cancer patients remain elusive -- despite promising results from large studies.

Co-authors of the editorial are Dr. Elie Akl, associate professor in the Department of Medicine in UB's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and in McMaster University's Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Dr. Holger Schünemann, professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University.

In their editorial, on a paper in the same issue of the journal, the physicians say the anti-clotting effect of heparin is well established, unlike a speculated anti-tumor effect. Consequently, they question if heparin should be offered to cancer patients who don't have clotting problems.

Having systematically summarized the available evidence of how cancer patients may benefit from heparin in a 2011 Cochrane Review, they now were invited to comment on the SAVE-ONCO study of 3,200 patients with metastatic or locally advanced solid tumors. Patients receiving chemotherapy were also given a preventive dose of semuloparin (ultra-low-molecular weight heparin) once daily for just over three months.

This study, the largest so far, found semuloparin significantly reduced the incidence of thromboembolism but had no statistically significant effect on major bleeding and death. Taken together with the prior studies and another study they recently identified these findings confirm and further establish the authors' recent review's conclusion of "a likely small survival benefit."

They estimated "if 1,000 patients with cancer were to use a prophylactic dose of LMWH, approximately 30 would avert death, 20 would avert a clotting complication and one would suffer a major bleeding episode over a 12-month period."

Akl and Schünemann said the findings have meaning for both patients and other healthcare decision makers.

"Patients who are not bothered much by daily injections of LMWH can avert hospitalizations for a clotting complication and possibly achieve a prolongation of life if they accept an increased risk of bleeding and its subsequent treatment," they said.

They added that those patients truly looking for survival from their cancer will need to deal with "some uncertainty" about whether their type and stage of cancer are associated with the likely survival benefit of LMWH.

Akl and Schünemann said more clarity is required about which cancer patients would benefit most, the magnitude of this survival benefit, and whether this benefit is appropriate for cancers that respond poorly to other therapies. They are planning a sophisticated analysis of the published trials (individual patient data meta-analysis) to investigate these questions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elie A. Akl, Holger J. Schünemann. Routine Heparin for Patients with Cancer? One Answer, More Questions. New England Journal of Medicine, 2012; 366 (7): 661 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe1113672

Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Low molecular weight heparin use in cancer treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215185838.htm>.
McMaster University. (2012, February 15). Low molecular weight heparin use in cancer treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215185838.htm
McMaster University. "Low molecular weight heparin use in cancer treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120215185838.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) — Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins