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Time to abandon warfarin


Warfarin is of no benefit to cancer patients at risk of thrombosis caused by catheters used to deliver chemotherapy treatments, according to research.

A trial by Cancer Research UK and the Institute for Cancer Studies at Birmingham University is reported in The Lancet.

It sought to balance the likely benefits of prophylactic warfarin against the known risks – and concludes that “the time has come to move on”.

The report’s authors said: “When any benefit of thromboprophylaxis was balanced against the risk of major bleeding, the combined outcome showed no advantage with the use of any dose of warfarin.

“These findings only add to the assertion that the time has come to move on from warfarin for thromboprophylaxis in patients with cancer … we should consider newer treatments.”

The research follows a decade that has seen a substantial increase in the use of central venous catheters (CVCs) and a growing awareness of the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE).

It is linked to the production by tumours of pro-clotting factors, certain chemo and hormone therapies and CVCs. Half of patients with cancer suffer from VTE.

Copyright Press Association 2009

The Lancet

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