Venous Thromboembolism in Patients With Cancer Part I: Survey of Oncology Nurses' Attitudes and Treatment Practices for Ambulatory Settings

Pamela Hallquist Viale

Rowena Schwartz

thromboembolism, heparin, blood coagulation
CJON 2004, 8(5), 455-461. DOI: 10.1188/04.CJON.455-461

Patients with cancer have a higher incidence of venous thromboembolism (VTE). Little information currently exists on VTE and the understanding and beliefs of oncology nurses. Therefore, the attitudes and treatment practices of ambulatory oncology nurses were surveyed to determine the current knowledge base of VTE in patients with cancer. Survey results are presented along with a thorough literature review of thromboembolism and the unique risk factors for this frequent complication in patients with cancer. The causes of VTE in this patient population often are multifactorial and include hypercoagulability, stasis, and vascular endothelial damage from procedures or the neoplastic process itself. In particular, chemotherapy administration can increase the risk of thrombosis considerably. New therapies, including thalidomide, require oncology nurses caring for these patients to have heightened awareness of the potential for thrombogenic complications. This is the first of two articles that address the problem of thromboembolism in patients with cancer, including the survey results. (See part II on page 465.) Oncology nurses are essential in the care of VTE in patients with cancer and can help with patient identification, treatment, and compliance for improved patient outcomes.

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