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DVT: The right facts. The right diagnosis

Ensuring your oncologist knows your DVT risk factors

Why hasn’t my doctor spoken to me about DVT?

DVT is a known risk for cancer patients. However, your oncologist may have chosen to focus on other important aspects of your cancer treatment first and foremost. Especially if your DVT risk is relatively low, many doctors would prefer not to raise every possible complication to your attention, as there is no need to add extra worry.

If DVT is hard to detect, what should I do?

If you have cancer but have not been diagnosed with DVT, then your best course of action is to watch out for any symptoms of DVT or of pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a complication, caused by DVT. Common warning signs of DVT include: discomfort, pain or swelling in the leg and discolouration. If you start to feel short of breath or have chest pain, it could be a sign of a PE, which can be far more serious and requires immediate medical attention. If you often experience shortness of breath as a result of your cancer or cancer treatment, then you can speak with your doctor about ways to know the difference.

What if I am at greater risk than other cancer patients?

Another way to be prepared is by knowing about other factors that could add to your existing levels of risk, including certain conditions or diseases, medications and lifestyle habits. As well, it can help to know which types of cancer and treatments are associated with a higher likelihood of developing DVT. You can find more information about this throughout this site and from your doctors or nurses.

When to speak with your doctor?

Your oncologist should know about the risks of DVT, so it should come as no surprise if you want to discuss the topic or ask specific questions. If you have no extra risk for DVT, you might expect your doctor to provide a short description of DVT along with what symptoms to be aware of. 
If you have done your own research and identified additional DVT risk factors on top of your cancer treatment, it could be a very good idea to mention this information. Your doctor may recommend ways to decrease your chances of getting DVT; at the least, he or she will want to be aware of your situation.

Moreover, if you experience DVT symptoms, make sure that you book an appointment, and have a proper discussion with your doctor about what is happening. You can come prepared with a record of when you have experienced a DVT-related symptom and exactly what happened. In addition, you may want to remind your doctor of any extra DVT risk factors that you have identified. By providing your doctor with a clear picture of the situation, you can help be sure to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

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