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Cancer. 1984 Feb 1;53(3):557-62.

Incidence of thrombocytopenia and serious hemorrhage among patients with solid tumors.


To evaluate the incidence of thrombocytopenia and bleeding among patients with solid tumors treated intensively with chemotherapy, the records of 1274 patients treated between 1972 and 1980 on protocols known to produce significant myelosuppression were reviewed. Three hundred one patients with solid tumors (breast, lung, melanoma, sarcoma, primary brain, testicular, hypernephroma and others) experienced 5063 days of thrombocytopenia (platelet count less than 50,000/microliters) and 670 days of severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count less than 20,000/microliters). The median number of days thrombocytopenia was 6 (range, 1-250). There were only 44 episodes of clinically detectable serious bleeding, primarily gastrointestinal (26/44), during thrombocytopenia and all but seven episodes first occurred at platelet counts between 20,000-50,000/microliters. Fifteen of the 44 bleeding episodes were associated with coagulation abnormalities, 24 occurred during serious infection, and 12 occurred at sites of tumors. One hundred forty-seven of the 301 patients (49%) received platelet transfusions. In 86 thrombocytopenic patients with central nervous system (CNS) tumors, there was no evidence of CNS bleeding during thrombocytopenia. Hemorrhagic deaths were uncommon, and of the 12 patients who died of bleeding, 7 had normal counts. There is a very low incidence of significant thrombocytopenia or bleeding among patients with solid tumors treated with combination chemotherapy or experimental agents escalated to maximally tolerated doses. These data suggest that with respect to thrombocytopenic bleeding intensive treatment of patients with solid tumors can be pursued with relative safety utilizing the standard transfusion supportive measures now widely available.

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