Venous Thromboembolic Events Infosheet

This Infosheet explains what a VTE is, what the causes and risk factors for VTEs are, what the symptoms are, how they can be treated and some tips for self-management.

A venous thromboembolic event (VTE) is the term used to describe the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) within a vein. The most common location for a VTE is in the veins of the legs – this is known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Sometimes part of a clot can break away and travel to the lungs – this is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).

Myeloma patients are thought to be at an increased risk of developing a VTE compared to other cancers due to:

  • The myeloma itself, which changes the blood causing it to thicken and disrupt normal blood flow
  • The specific drugs and treatment combinations used to treat myeloma

Factors relating to the individual patient can also play a significant role. These include age, history of previous VTEs, weight, mobility, recent injury or surgery and other comorbidities i.e. existing diseases or disorders.

Of the various factors that increase the risk of developing a VTE in myeloma patients, anti-myeloma treatment carries
the greatest risk, particularly the immunomodulatory (IMiD) drugs such as thalidomide, Revlimid® (lenalidomide) and
Imnovid® (pomalidomide). Supportive treatments used in myeloma, such as erythropoeitin (EPO) which is used to treat patients who have anaemia, may also increase the risk of a VTE.

The infosheet covers in detail the symptoms of a VTE and treatment methods – both prophylactic preventative treatments and anticoagulants for those patients with a suspected VTE – as well as the various possible side effects of prophylactic VTE treatment.