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Blood clot warning

Dear Annie: Last year, I lost my dad. He had stage IV cancer, but that’s not what killed him. In fact, after his first few months of chemotherapy, a scan showed that the cancer was mostly gone. Then, a few weeks later, he died suddenly in his sleep. We declined to do an autopsy, but from talking to doctors it seems that there’s a good chance it was a blood clot.

I have since learned that there is a strong association between cancer and blood clots, and I felt compelled to write here and share some information.

Both chemotherapy and cancer increase the risk of blood clots. The CDC reports that blood clots are the second-leading cause of death among people with cancer. According to the National Blood Clot Alliance, blood clots affect 900,000 people every year in the U.S., and 1 in 5 blood clots are related to cancer and cancer treatment. NBCA notes that the risk of a dangerous blood clot “is greatest in the first few months after a cancer diagnosis.” The more advanced a cancer is, the higher the risk of blood clots. Other risk factors include personal or family history of blood clots, hospitalization, bone fractures, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, smoking and traveling for more than four hours.

Symptoms of a blood clot include:

≤ Swelling, pain or tenderness in the arms or legs.

≤ Skin that on the arms or legs that is discolored and/or warm to the touch.

≤ Difficulty breathing.

≤ Chest pain that intensifies with a deep breath.

–Faster than normal or irregular heartbeat.

Although blood clots can be deadly if left unchecked, they are preventable and treatable. I encourage anyone undergoing treatment for cancer to talk to their doctor about their risk for blood clots. More details are available at stoptheclot.org. — Missing My Dad

Dear Missing: I am so sorry for your loss, and I’m happy to print this potentially life-saving information here.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.