Primary Thromboprophylaxis in Pancreatic Cancer Patients: Why Clinical Practice Guidelines Should Be Implemented

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Mar 6;12(3):618. doi: 10.3390/cancers12030618.


Exocrine pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, simply referred to as pancreatic cancer (PC) has the worst prognosis of any malignancy. Despite recent advances in the use of adjuvant chemotherapy in PC, the prognosis remains poor, with fewer than 8% of patients being alive at 5 years after diagnosis. The prevalence of PC has steadily increased over the past decades, and it is projected to become the second-leading cause of cancer-related death by 2030. In this context, optimizing and integrating supportive care is important to improve quality of life and survival. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common but preventable complication in PC patients. VTE occurs in one out of five PC patients and is associated with significantly reduced progression-free survival and overall survival. The appropriate use of primary thromboprophylaxis can drastically and safely reduce the rates of VTE in PC patients as shown from subgroup analysis of non-PC targeted placebo-controlled randomized trials of cancer patients and from two dedicated controlled randomized trials in locally advanced PC patients receiving chemotherapy. Therefore, primary thromboprophylaxis with a Grade 1B evidence level is recommended in locally advanced PC patients receiving chemotherapy by the International Initiative on Cancer and Thrombosis clinical practice guidelines since 2013. However, its use and potential significant clinical benefit continues to be underrecognized worldwide. This narrative review aims to summarize the main recent advances in the field including on the use of individualized risk assessment models to stratify the risk of VTE in each patient with individual available treatment options.

Keywords: direct oral anticoagulant; low-molecular weight heparin; pancreatic cancer; survival; thromboprophylaxis; venous thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Review