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A diagnosis of cancer can leave you and your loved ones feeling uncertain, anxious and overwhelmed, especially if you are at risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The time ahead will be very important to you. This fact sheet gives advice on how to:

  • Understand your diagnosis, treatment plan and side effec
  • Communicate with your health care team
  • Build a network of resources and support
  • Care for yourself emotionally

What Is Venous Thromboembolism and How Is It Treated?

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) refers to a blood clot in a vein. People with cancer are more likely to develop blood clots, compared with the general population. Therefore, it is important to understand what VTE is, if you are at risk, and how VTE can be prevented and treated.

There are two types of VTE. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a major vein that leads to the heart. DVT may cause discomfort, and should be monitored and treated to ensure it does not progress. Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot in the lung, which can be life-threatening.

VTE is more closely associated with certain tumor types in certain locations. For example, it is more commonly seen in individuals who have widespread tumors, and those who are currently undergoing treatment. Taking certain medications can also increase your risk of blood clots. Ask your doctor about whether you are at risk for VTE, what can be done to prevent it, and how to recognize symptoms.

It’s important to know that people who have been diagnosed with cancer can be at risk for VTE after successful treatment, even years after treatment has ended.

How Can I Stay Informed About My Cancer?

  • Communicate with your health care team. Your doctors and nurses are the central part of your team. It also can include pharmacists, oncology social workers, counselors and more. They all help you make decisions about your care.

  • Keep your health care appointments. Prepare your questions before your appointments and write down or record the answers to help you remember them. Think about bringing a friend or loved one for support.

  • Contact health care organizations. CancerCare’s A Helping Hand is a listing of state and national organizations with advice and resources. This can be ordered in print or found online at

  • Be aware of health care disparities. Anal cancer is sometimes discovered later for certain groups, such as Black patients and the uninsured. This may affect the stage of cancer and resources needed for treatment.

What Are Some Resources That Can Help?

You do not need to cope with cancer on your own. There are local and national support services available to assist you.

Financial Assistance. Many organizations provide help with medical billing, insurance coverage and reimbursement issues. There are also financial assistance organizations for people who cannot afford the cost of their medications. Good places to start are the websites of the Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition ( and the Medicine Assistance Tool (

Benefits and Entitlements. Local and national government agencies can give you information on Social Security, Medicaid, disability issues, SNAP benefits and more. Check your local phone directory for listings or visit

Housing/Lodging. Lodging for families who need to travel for treatment may be found at The Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society ( and the National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses ( Joe’s House offers an online database with lodging information across the U.S. (

How Do I Help Myself Emotionally?

Cancer may not just affect yourself, but everyone around you. It is important to take care of your feelings. You may find emotional support from friends, family and loved ones. There are also many organizations, such as CancerCare, that provide support services to help people affected by cancer.

CancerCare provides one-on-one counseling and support groups to connect you with others in a safe and supportive environment. We can also help find other resources to help you in many ways.

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This fact sheet has been supported by Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Last updated Friday, October 20, 2023

The information presented in this publication is provided for your general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified health professionals who are aware of your specific situation. We encourage you to take information and questions back to your individual health care provider as a way of creating a dialogue and partnership about your cancer and your treatment.

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