People whose blood clots more easily than normal are more often affected by cancer. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have discovered that a number of variants of clotting factor genes have an influence on bowel cancer risk. They found out that carriers of a particular gene variant of clotting factor V have a bowel cancer risk that is six times higher than people who do not have this gene variant. This study is an important basis for finding out whether and for whom drugs which affect blood clotting may be useful to prevent bowel cancer.
Back in the mid 19th century, a French doctor, Armand Trousseau, discovered a connection between cancer and thrombosis – the formation of often dangerous blood clots that can lead to venous occlusion. Today it is known that cancer and its treatment change blood flow properties and thus promote the formation of clots. However, clots do not only occur as a side effect and consequence of cancer, but, vice versa, an increased blood clotting tendency may also be associated with an elevated cancer risk.
About twelve different blood proteins called clotting factors interact in a coordinated manner in the blood clotting (coagulation) process. In the same way as hemophilia (decreased blood clotting) is inherited, genes also play a role in an increased clotting tendency (thrombophilia): There are well studied gene variants (polymorphisms) of a number of clotting factors which are associated with an increased or decreased clotting tendency. Between two and five percent of the population carry such genetic variants.
Literature:Carla Y. Vossen, Michael Hoffmeister, Jenny C. Chang-Claude, Frits R. Rosendaal, and Hermann Brenner: Clotting Factor Gene Polymorphisms and Colorectal Cancer Risk. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2011, DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2010.31.8873