Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Breast Cancer News (8/9): Platinol, anemia drugs and the risk of thromboembolic events

A thromboembolic event (TEE) is an event (blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) or stoke (blood clot in brain)) related to a blood clot loose in the blood stream. According to a recent Anticancer Research study, for patients with advanced breast cancer a TEE is associated with a worse prognosis, although a causal relationship is not yet clear. Today we'll look at recent studies which have linked breast cancer drugs (Platinol chemotherapy and Procrit, Epogen, Aranesp for anemia) to thromboembolic events.

"Unacceptable" rate of thromboembolic events in patients treated with Platinol

An August study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found an "unacceptable incidence" of thromboembolic events in patients treated with Platinol (cisplatin) based chemotherapy. According to the story and video on TheDoctorsChannel.com, "nearly 1 in 5" (18.1%) have a TEE during treatment or within a month of ending it. Age, patient performance status and presence of a central venous catheter were associated with a higher risk of TEE. Until a "more applicable predictive model is available," the authors suggest that all patients on Platinol-based chemotherapy be considered for "thrombophrophylaxis, unless there is a contraindication." Both the study and news story may be found on the Platinol page of the LATESTBreastCancer.com website.

Drugs to treat anemeia associated with thromboembolic events

Erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESAs) treat anemia by stimulating bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Back in February, a study in Cancer evaluated the risk of thromboembolic events in patients older than 65 with metastatic breast cancer treated with chemotherapy and ESAs, such as Epogen (epoetin alfa), Procrit (epoetin alfa) and Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa). In this group, TEEs were found to be a "common event" and caution was recommended.

Interestingly, an August 1 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found "widespread variablity" in the prescription of ESAs for patients older than 65 on chemotherapy. Some doctors under use and some overuse ESAs. The use and duration of ESA prescriptions varied with doctor experience, specialty and gender. The authors concluded, "Policies to discourage inappropriate use of cancer therapies are needed."

At LATESTBreastCancer.com, we'll continue to highlight studies on breast cancer drug side effects, including thromboembolic events. Please stay tuned.

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