The clotting of blood is an important function our body provides so that a little cut will not cause us to lose our entire blood volume. This safety measure which has evolved over eons can have some detrimental effects in certain circumstances. Most of you have heard about an acute event called a pulmonary embolism. This can be a catastrophic event for a patient. A clot forms, usually in the leg, and is then transported by the venous system to the lungs. Clots occur in the arterial system such as a clot forming in the left atrium of the heart and traveling to the brain causing a stroke.

Why patients develop clots in their circulation can be related to several causes. Deep venous clots often occur following a period of inactivity such as after a surgery or a long trip when the patient has not been moving their legs for several hours. Cardiac conditions such as atrial fibrillation can lead to clot formation in the heart which can lead to a stroke. A cause for a patient’s blood clot may be obvious but can also be elusive. One serious cause for unusual clotting may be an underlying cancer. Patients with blood clots particularly in the venous system should be examined and screened for an underly malignancy.

The most common cancers in men are lung, colorectal and prostate and in women, breast, colorectal and uterine are the top three. Treatment for clotting is effective but can have its own risks.