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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) risk factors

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Cancer can lead to . What else might add to your risk?  

Active Therapy for Cancer

Cancer therapy itself has been shown to increase the risk for , including , anti-angiogenic therapy, hormonal therapy, erythropoietin-stimulating agents1 and immunotherapy2. The underlying mechanisms are poorly understood, but it has been suggested that many of these therapeutic agents induce vascular damage3.

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is also a common complication of cancer-related surgery. The frequency of in patients undergoing cancer surgery is roughly twice that seen in patients without malignancies who have similar operations4.


Hospitalisation is often associated with prolonged immobility (due to bedrest or recovery). This is a strong risk factor for cancer-associated . In the hospitalised setting, the rate of in cancer patients is twice that of non-cancer patients5.

Central Venous Catheters

Central venous catheters (CVC), commonly inserted for , are also associated with a risk of . The incidence of CVC-related deep vein () assessed by venography has been reported to vary from 30% to 60% but catheter-related in adult patients is symptomatic in only 5% of cases6.

The wide variability in the incidence of catheter-related may be due to differences in catheter type, position, duration of insertion, type of , and use of different chemotherapeutic agent7.

is also an important risk factor for / in both men and women. Studies have shown that obese individuals have nearly twice the risk of both and 8.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and contraceptives

Many women use treatments to alleviate the symptoms of menopause or osteoporosis. These medicines often contain a synthetic version of the hormone called oestrogen, which causes blood to clot more easily. Similarly, birth control methods like the combined contraceptive pill and contraceptive skin patch also contain oestrogen9.

If you are already at risk for developing or undergoing treatment, be sure your doctor is aware of any or contraceptive medication you are taking, so you can discuss what is right for you.


Pregnancy can also increase the chances of developing . Pregnant woman can keep their risk at a minimum by watching out for and reducing other risk factors wherever possible. In particular, if you are on bed rest or generally moving slowly, talk with your doctor about types of exercises that can keep your blood flowing.

Other additional risk factors

There are other risk factors, but they are rare and less relevant for cancer patients. For example, some genetic diseases can trigger and these are usually only identified when a patient does not fit the usual profile (recent surgery or cancer). These diseases include rare Protein C, Protein S and Antithrombin III deficiencies.

Interested to know more? Watch our video which explains why the body makes blood clots

If you need more information about any of the above risk factors or conditions, please contact your doctor.


MAT 50139 Last approved April 2022

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