Characteristics and outcomes of cancer patients who develop pulmonary embolism: A cross-sectional study

Oncol Lett. 2022 May;23(5):168. doi: 10.3892/ol.2022.13288. Epub 2022 Apr 4.


Pulmonary embolism (PE), along with deep vein thrombosis, are collectively known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). Predisposing factors for PE include post-operative conditions, pregnancy, cancer and an advanced age; of note, a number of genetic mutations have been found to be associated with an increased risk of PE. The association between cancer and VTE is well-established, and cancer patients present a higher risk of a thrombotic event compared to the general population. In addition, PE is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality among cancer patients. The aim of the present study was to illustrate the clinical characteristics, laboratory findings, radiology features and outcomes of cancer patients who developed PE, collected from an anticancer hospital. For this purpose, adult cancer patients diagnosed with PE by imaging with computed tomography pulmonary angiography were enrolled. The following data were recorded: Demographics, comorbidities, type of cancer, time interval between cancer diagnosis and PE occurrence, the type of therapy received and the presence of metastases, clinical signs and symptoms, predisposing factors for PE development, laboratory data, radiological findings, electrocardiography findings, and the type of therapy received for PE and outcomes in a follow-up period of 6 months. In total, 60 cancer patients were enrolled. The majority of the cancer patients were males. The most common type of cancer observed was lung cancer. The majority of cases of PE occurred within the first year from the time of cancer diagnosis, while the majority of patients had already developed metastases. In addition, the majority of cancer patients had received chemotherapy over the past month, while they were not receiving anticoagulants and had central obstruction. A large proportion of patients had asymptomatic PE. The in-hospital mortality rate was 13.3% and no relapse or mortality were observed during the follow-up period. The present study demonstrates that elevated levels of lactic acid and an increased platelet count, as well as low serum levels of carcinoembryonic antigen, albumin and D-dimer, may be potential biomarkers for asymptomatic PE among cancer patients.

Keywords: D-dimer; albumin; cancer; carcinoembryonic antigen; chemotherapy; lactic acid; platelets; pulmonary embolism.

Grants and funding

Funding: No funding was received.