Preventing Blood Clots Better Than Not

Ovarian cancer surgery patients may live better through use of preventive meds for blood clots

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Who wants to be given a shot every single day for a month after surgery just to prevent the chance of developing a blood clot? People who really don’t want to get blood clots—that’s who.

A recent study did the math on whether using a medication to reduce the risk of blood clots after ovarian cancer surgery was really worth it. Results showed that using enoxaparin (brand names Lovenox, Xaparin and Clexane) reduced the risk of blood clots by 12 percent.

"Talk to your doctor about after surgery medications."

Shitanshu Uppal, MD, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, led an investigation into whether preventive medication for blood clots was cost effective after ovarian cancer surgery.

A dangerous condition known as venous thromboembolism occurs when blood clots develop in a vein. These clots can then travel and get stuck in different parts of the body. These types of blood clots are frequently found in patients after they’ve had ovarian cancer surgery. Post-surgical blood clots pose many dangers, including stroke and other serious complications like death.

“The US Department of Health estimates that more than two million Americans suffer from venous thromboembolism each year, with over half of these developing in the hospital 30 days after hospitalization," said the study's authors. "Venous thromboembolism occurs more frequently in cancer patients, interferes with planned chemotherapy regimens, and worsens quality of life.”

Enoxaparin is often given to patients to help prevent blood clots after surgery. The medication is delivered through a daily injection.

For this study, researchers looked at multiple factors involved with using enoxaparin for four weeks after ovarian cancer surgery and post-surgical blood clot complications. Data for a simulated group of 10,000 women - based on actual statistics of ovarian cancer surgical patients - was used to calculate whether the use of enoxaparin reduced the number of blood clot episodes, the number of bleeding episodes and death after the surgery.

Based on the research model, using enoxaparin for four weeks after surgery resulted in a 12 percent reduction in blood clots overall and 2 percent more patients living for five years after surgery.

The authors concluded that patients having open abdominal ovarian cancer surgery should be given enoxaparin for four weeks following surgery to reduce the risk of blood clots and death from those blood clots.

Due to a US Patent filing mistake, many brands of enoxaparin are available. Depending upon brand, dose and location, a 10-day supply can run anywhere between $100 to $400.

This study was published in December in Gynecologic Oncology.

No funding information was made publicly available. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 14, 2013
Last Updated:
February 17, 2013