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DVT justifies GP cancer suspicion diagnosis

An unexplained thromboembolism is enough to justify cautious investigation for cancer, new primary care research concludes.

The analysis of 813 patients with colorectal, lung or prostate cancer calculated that deep vein thrombosis substantially increased the risk of a new cancer being identified.

The risk of a subsequent cancer diagnosis was 6.6 per cent, compared with 4.4 per cent over two years in a recent study and 0.83 per cent per year in the population generally.

'On the face of it, a risk of 6.6 per cent appears to warrant investigation, at least by simple measures,' concluded the study, published as a research letter in November's British Journal of General Practice.

Study author Dr William Hamilton, a senior research fellow in the department of community-based medicine at the University of Bristol, said: 'Some of these thromboembolic events will have occurred in clearly ill patients and it is not too much of an imaginative leap for the GP to consider cancer.'

Dr Hamilton, a former GP, said he did not advocate investigating all cases of DVT for cancer, but advised: 'I would have thought it was worth the GP querying for other illness, such as by asking about loss of weight or unusual pains.'

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