Preventing a blood clot when you travel

Before you travel, ask your cancer doctor or specialist nurse about your risk of a blood clot. They can tell you about anything you should do to help prevent blood clots.

Cancer can increase your risk of getting a blood clot (also called deep vein thrombosis or DVT). Long journeys can also increase your risk. It is important to think about how to reduce your risk of a blood clot if you have cancer and are planning to travel.

Wearing compression stockings for travel reduces your risk of a blood clot. This is important if you are going on a flight of 4 hours or more. Below-the-knee stockings apply gentle pressure to your ankles to help blood flow.

Make sure your compression stockings are properly measured and fitted for you. You can ask your nurse or a pharmacist for advice.

Possible symptoms of a blood clot include:

  • pain, redness and swelling in a leg or arm
  • breathlessness
  • chest pain.

Always get urgent medical help if you have any of these symptoms. If you have a blood clot, you need treatment straight away. A blood clot is serious, but your doctor can treat it with drugs that thin the blood.

Other tips to reduce your risk of developing a blood clot include:

  • Book an aisle seat, especially on flights, to make it easier to move around.
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing, especially around the waist and groin.
  • When sitting, exercise your legs, feet and toes about every half an hour.
  • Walk around when you can and try to walk up and down the aisles for a few minutes every hour.
  • Try some upper body and breathing exercises – these also help improve your circulation.
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially during flights.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, as this can dehydrate you.

We have more information about blood clots and cancer.