Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a frequent cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cancer and those having chemotherapy. However, the incidence of VTE during radical treatment for patients with oesophago-gastric cancer is poorly documented. The incidence of VTE was assessed in 200 consecutive patients with oesophago-gastric cancer having surgery with curative intent; 132 (66%) had neo-adjuvant chemotherapy, 37 (18.5%) had adjuvant chemotherapy and 64 (32%) had no chemotherapy. Patients received 40 mg of Enoxaparin subcutaneously daily during the peri-operative hospital stay. Asymptomatic VTE were detected by routine chest computed tomography (CT) pre and post surgery. Symptomatic patients with suspected VTE were investigated and treated as clinically appropriate. Twenty six patients (13%) developed VTE of which 14 (54%) were symptomatic; 12/26 (46%) VTE were detected pre-operatively, all during or after neo-adjuvant chemotherapy, and 14/26 (54%) post-operatively. There were two post-operative deaths caused by pulmonary emboli occurring at days 24 and 56 respectively despite peri-operative VTE prophylaxis. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that neo-adjuvant chemotherapy was the only factor that predicted pre-operative VTE (p = 0.073) and any VTE (p = 0.045). This study found a 13% incidence of VTE in patients undergoing therapy with curative intent for oesophago-gastric cancer and a statistically significant association between neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and VTE. Half of the patients with VTE were asymptomatic but two had fatal PE's. Current VTE prophylaxis regimens for this patient group may be inadequate.
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