Article Abstract

Bleeding in cancer patients and its treatment: a review

Authors: Candice Johnstone, Shayna E. Rich


Bleeding is a common problem in cancer patients, related to local tumor invasion, tumor angiogenesis, systemic effects of the cancer, or anti-cancer treatments. Existing bleeds can also be exacerbated by medications such as bevacizumab, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and anticoagulants. Patients may develop acute catastrophic bleeding, episodic major bleeding, or low-volume oozing. Bleeding may present as bruising, petechiae, epistaxis, hemoptysis, hematemesis, hematochezia, melena, hematuria, or vaginal bleeding. Therapeutic intervention for bleeding should start by establishing goals of care, and treatment choice should be guided by life expectancy and quality of life. Careful thought should be given to discontinuation of medications and reversal of anticoagulation. Interventions to stop or slow bleeding may include systemic agents or transfusion of blood products. Noninvasive local treatment options include applied pressure, dressings, packing, and radiation therapy. Invasive local treatments include percutaneous embolization, endoscopic procedures, and surgical treatment.