Updated 13 January 2016

It is safe to use blood thinner before major cancer surgery

Blood-thinning drugs can safely be given to certain patients before major cancer surgery, a new study suggests.


Blood thinners such as heparin are commonly given to patients after surgery, but there is little data on their safety and effectiveness when administered before major cancer operations, say researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Read: Diagnosed with breast cancer at 15

Based on the results, published online recently in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, the New York City cancer center has begun giving blood thinners to certain patients before major cancer surgery.

"This research has been a practice-changing study for our institution," study co-author Dr. Vivian Strong, an associate attending surgeon, said in a journal news release.

"Our study results demonstrate to other institutions that you can use preoperative [blood thinners] safely, so I think that it has very broad-reaching, practice-changing implications," she added.

Read: Access to cancer care: what do we need to do?

In this study, researchers compared more than 2,000 patients given blood thinners before major cancer surgery with nearly 5,000 who did not receive blood thinners before major surgery.

The results showed that one dose of blood-thinning medication before surgery reduced the risk of blood clots and did not increase the risk of major bleeding or blood transfusion, the researchers said.

Read more:

Taylor Swift pays surprise visit to teen cancer patient

Experts aim to close cancer divide by 2025

Aspirin can cut non-cardia stomach cancer risk


Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules