Background: Cancer-Associated thrombosis is common. Recommended treatment is daily injected low-molecular-weight heparin for 6months. Most studies focus on prophylaxis and treatment; few have explored patients’ experience.
To identify and synthesise the available literature concerning patients’ experience of cancer associated thrombosis.
Systematic literature review and qualitative thematic synthesis.
MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsychINFO (until 10/2016; limited to English) were searched. Eligible papers were qualitative studies of adult patients’ experience of cancer-associated thrombosis. Two researchers screened titles/abstracts/papers against inclusion criteria with recourse to a third for disagreements. Critical Appraisal Skills Programme qualitative checklist tool was used for quality appraisal.
1397 articles were identified. Five qualitative studies (total n=92; age range 32 to 84 years) met the inclusion criteria. Participants had various cancer types. Most had advanced disease and were receiving palliative care. Four major themes emerged from the data: knowledge deficit (patients and clinicians); effects of cancer associated thrombosis (physical and psychological); effects of anticoagulation; coping strategies.
The cancer journey is difficult in itself, but thrombosis was an additional, frightening and unexpected burden. Although the association between cancer and thromboembolism is well known, cancer patients are not educated routinely about the risk or warning symptoms/signs of thromboembolism which may otherwise be misattributed to the cancer by patient and clinician alike. This systematic review highlights the impact of cancer-associated thrombosis on the lives of cancer patients, and calls for education for patients and clinicians to be part of routine care, and further work to address this patient priority.