Treating Venous Thromboembolism in Patients With Cancer

Caroline Piatek; Casey L O'Connell; Howard A Liebman


Expert Rev Hematol. 2012;5(2):201-209. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among patients with cancer. Although much is known about the factors that contribute to VTE risk, pre-emptive therapy in high-risk populations is clearly indicated in only a few clinical situations. Low-molecular-weight heparin is still the recommended class of anticoagulants for cancer-associated VTE. Management of VTE in patients with renal failure, hemorrhagic brain metastases, thrombocytopenia and coagulopathy remains challenging with few safe and effective alternatives. Novel oral agents are currently being investigated and may play a role in the future in the treatment of cancer-associated VTE.


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a complex and common complication of cancer and its treatment.[1,2] VTE affects up to 20% of cancer patients and is one of the major causes of death in these patients.[3] Compared with VTE in patients without cancer, cancer-associated VTE is associated with higher rates of recurrence, bleeding complications associated with anticoagulation therapy and mortality.[3,4] Patients with cancer-associated thrombosis are more likely to have advanced disease and poor prognosis, suggesting that VTE is a marker of more aggressive disease.[5]


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