Cancer-associated thrombosis

Open Cardiovasc Med J. 2010 Feb 23:4:78-82. doi: 10.2174/1874192401004020078.


Thrombosis is a common complication in patients with cancer and it is estimated that about 20% of patients with cancer experience venous thromboembolism (VTE). This complication is associated with high rate of morbidity and mortality and is sometimes the first manifestation of an occult cancer. The risk profiles and markers involved in cancerassociated thrombosis share similarities with inflammation-induced atherosclerosis and thrombosis. The type of cancer, chemotherapy, surgery, central venous catheters, pre-chemotherapy platelet and leukocyte count are associated with high risk of VTE in cancer patients. Landmark studies demonstrated that effective prophylaxis and treatment of VTE reduced morbidity and increased survival. Low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) is preferred as an effective and safe means for prophylaxis and treatment of VTE. It has largely replaced unfractionated heparin and vitamin K antagonists. The advantages of LMWH include increased survival and quality of life, decreased rate of VTE, low incidence of thrombocytopenia. New guidelines for prophylaxis and treatment are now available and prophylaxis is recommended in hospitalized cancer patients and patients undergoing major surgery. Treatment with LMWH should be considered as the first line of therapy for established VTE and to prevent recurrent thrombosis in patients with cancer.

Keywords: Cancer; Low-molecular-weight heparin.; Thrombosis.