Feasibility and impact of screening for venous thromboembolism in treatment-naive lung cancer patients-Results of a prospective cohort study

Indian J Cancer. 2021 Mar 21. doi: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_678_19. Online ahead of print.


Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) in cancer remains underdiagnosed. This prospective study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of screening for VTE in lung cancer (LC) patients. We assess the incidence of VTE, its risk factors, and effects on overall survival (OS).

Methods: Consecutive treatment-naive LC patients were screened for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) with compression ultrasonography and pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) with computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) at diagnosis and after 3 months of treatment. The incidence rate of VTE (DVT and/or PTE) was calculated. Risk factors associated with VTE were assessed using logistic regression analysis. All participants were followed-up to 1 year after enrollment. OS was compared in LC subjects with and without VTE, using the Cox proportional hazard analysis.

Results: Around 301 subjects with LC (stages IIIB-IV accounted for 83.1%) were enrolled, of which 16 had VTE (5.3%). The incidence rate of VTE was 90 per 1000 person-years (PY). PTE was asymptomatic in 27.3% of cases while all DVT episodes were symptomatic. The incidence rate of asymptomatic PTE identified during the screening was 17 per 1000 PY. The median duration from LC diagnosis to the VTE event was 96.5 days. Median OS was significantly less in VTE patients [161 versus 311 days; P = 0.007] and death was attributable to VTE in 50%. After adjusting for covariates, VTE (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.1), smoking (HR = 1.7), and Eastern cooperative oncology group performance status ≥2 (HR = 1.6) were independently associated with poor OS in LC.

Conclusions: VTE occurs in approximately 1 in 20 newly-diagnosed patients with LC and is associated with decreased OS. Screening for PTE may be considered even in resource-limited settings.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; embolism; lung cancer; overall survival; venous thrombosis..