Background: There are sparse data on the frequency of venous thromboembolism in patients with various types of cancer. We sought to determine the incidence and relative risk of venous thromboembolism, pulmonary embolism, and deep venous thrombosis in patients with malignancies.
Subjects and methods: The number of patients discharged with a diagnostic code for 19 types of malignancies, pulmonary embolism or deep venous thrombosis from 1979 through 1999 was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Survey. Patients studied were men and women of all ages and races.
Results: In patients with any of the 19 malignancies studied, 827,000 of 40,787,000 (2.0%) had venous thromboembolism, which was twice the incidence in patients without these malignancies, 6,854,000 of 662,309,000 (1.0 %). The highest incidence of venous thromboembolism was in patients with carcinoma of the pancreas, 51,000 of 1,176,000 (4.3%), and the lowest incidences were in patients with carcinoma of the bladder and carcinoma of the lip, oral cavity or pharynx. The overall incidences of pulmonary embolism and deep venous thrombosis were also twice the rates in noncancer patients. Incidences with cancer were not age dependent. The incidence of venous thromboembolism in patients with cancer began to increase in the late 1980s.
Conclusion: Patients with cancer had twice the incidence of venous thromboembolism, pulmonary embolism and deep venous thrombosis as patients without cancer. The incidence of venous thromboembolism, pulmonary embolism and deep venous thrombosis associated with cancer differed according to the type of cancer, was comparable in elderly and younger patients, and increased in the late 1980s and 1990s.