Bleeding during the first 6 months after discharge from the hospital for acute coronary syndrome may be linked to subsequent cancer diagnosis, according to research presented by Muñoz Pousa et al at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2019 (Abstract P677).
“Our results suggest that patients should seek medical advice if they experience bleeding after discharge for a heart attack,” said study author Isabel Muñoz Pousa, MD, of Álvaro Cunqueiro Hospital, Pontevedra, Spain. “Particularly if the bleeding is of gastrointestinal, pulmonary, or genitourinary origin, without any obvious reason, and occurs in the first 6 months. If the cause is cancer, early detection can improve prognosis.”
Following discharge for an acute coronary syndrome (heart attack or unstable angina), patients are typically treated with dual antiplatelet therapy for approximately 1 year. This treatment inhibits the formation of blood clots, but raises the risk of bleeding. Previous research has suggested that post-discharge bleeding may have negative consequences. This study examined its association with a new diagnosis of cancer.
The researchers retrospectively reviewed the hospital records of 3,644 patients with acute coronary syndrome discharged with dual antiplatelet therapy from Álvaro Cunqueiro Hospital. Patients were followed for a median of 56.2 months for bleeding events and cancer. The researchers analyzed associations between bleeding and the absolute risk of a new cancer diagnosis.
Bleeding occurred in 1,215 patients (33%) during follow-up and 227 patients (6%) had a new diagnosis of cancer. After adjustment for factors known to influence bleeding or cancer, postdischarge bleeding was associated with a threefold higher risk of new cancer diagnosis. The median time from bleeding to cancer diagnosis was 4.6 months. The link with cancer increased as the severity of bleeding worsened.
Spontaneous bleeding with no apparent cause was linked with a four times higher risk of cancer diagnosis, while there was no relation with bleeding due to trauma such as injury or bladder catheterization.
Regarding the location, blood in the feces was associated with a nearly fourfold risk of cancer diagnosis, while coughing up blood or blood in the urine were linked with four- and eight-times greater risks, respectively.
There was a relationship between bleeding and cancer regardless of whether patients were still on dual antiplatelet therapy or not.
Positive predictive value for cancer diagnosis of postdischarge bleeding was 7.7% (21.9% for genitourinary bleeding, 18.6% for bronchopulmonary bleeding, 5.8% for gastrointestinal bleeding, and 2.3% for other bleedings).
Dr. Muñoz Pousa said, “Most of the bleeding episodes in the study were mild. The bleeding events more strongly related with a new cancer diagnosis were severe hemorrhages of unknown cause requiring surgery—for example, digestive bleeding needing endoscopic treatment. We found a higher incidence of cancer in the first 6 months after discharge regardless of whether patients were taking dual antiplatelet therapy or not.”
She added, “A possible explanation is that there is a preexisting subclinical lesion in an organ that is triggered to become cancer by antiplatelet drugs or a stressful situation such as heart attack. This hypothesis needs to be tested and patients should ensure they take antiplatelets as prescribed to avoid having another heart attack.”
Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit esc365.escardio.org.The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.