Venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing operations for lung cancer: a systematic review

Ann Thorac Surg. 2014 Feb;97(2):394-400. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2013.10.074. Epub 2013 Dec 21.


Background: The risk of venous thromboembolism is perceived to be high in patients with lung cancer. However, existing studies in patients undergoing operations for lung cancer draw inconsistent conclusions and recommendations in terms of thromboprophylaxis. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review of the risk of perioperative and postoperative venous thromboembolism for patients undergoing potential curative surgical procedures for primary lung cancer

Methods: This was a systematic review including studies of patients with primary lung cancer undergoing operations with curative intent.

Results: We included 19 studies with a total of 10,660 patients. All studies, except 1, were observational in design. Marked heterogeneity was found between the studies in terms of methodologic aspects, patient characteristics, and findings. The mean risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) was estimated at 2.0% (range, 0.2%-19%), with a mean observation period of 16 months (range, 0.1-22), and the risk was nearly identical in studies with 1 month of follow-up and studies with a longer follow-up.

Conclusions: The evidence for using thromboprophylaxis after lung cancer operations is relatively sparse, and the use is based predominantly on clinical consensus. However, the risk of VTE seems to occur predominantly within the initial postoperative period, and subsequently the risk falls. Future research should focus on identifying patients and surgical procedures that increase the risk of VTE. This could be accomplished by large observational studies in addition to randomized controlled trials evaluating different thromboprophylaxis strategies.

Keywords: 10.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control*