Patients' Experiences of LIving with CANcer-associated thrombosis: the PELICAN study

Patient Prefer Adherence. 2015 Feb 24:9:337-45. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S79373. eCollection 2015.


Introduction: Thrombosis remains the most common preventable cause of mortality in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Whilst the prophylaxis and treatment of this condition is well understood, the patient experience and subsequent behavioral factors are not.

Methods: Patients receiving treatment for cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT) were interviewed about their experiences of CAT within the context of their cancer journey. Twenty interviews were transcribed and analyzed using framework analysis.

Results: Chemotherapy patients were well informed about the risks of febrile neutropenia, how to recognize it, and when to seek medical attention. However, they had limited knowledge about CAT and received no information about the condition. Red flag symptoms suggestive of CAT were attributed to chemotherapy or the underlying cancer, resulting in delayed presentation to hospital, and diagnosis. The CAT journey was considered a distressing one, with limited support or information, in complete juxtaposition with the treatment they received for their cancer. Patients felt there was little ownership for the management of CAT, which further added to their distress.

Conclusion: CAT is a common occurrence and patients view their experiences of it within the context of their overall cancer journey. However, patients receive little information to help recognize CAT and access timely treatment on the development of symptoms. Whilst other cancer complications have clear treatment pathways, thrombosis does not appear to have been afforded the same priority. A proactive approach to increase patient awareness, coupled with established CAT pathways is likely to reduce mortality, morbidity, and long-term psychological distress.

Keywords: low-molecular-weight heparin; patient experience; patient journey; qualitative; venous thromboembolism.