Cancer and venous thromboembolic disease: from molecular mechanisms to clinical management

E. Donnellan, B. Kevane, B.R. Healey Bird, F. Ni Ainle


Venous thromboembolism (vte) represents a major challenge in the management of patients with cancer. The malignant phenotype is associated with derangements in the coagulation cascade that can manifest as thrombosis, hemorrhage, or disseminated intravascular coagulation. The risk of vte is increased by a factor of approximately 6 in patients with cancer compared with non-cancer patients, and cancer patients account for approximately 20% of all newly diagnosed cases of vte. Postmortem studies have demonstrated rates of vte in patients with cancer to be as high as 50%. Despite that prevalence, vte prophylaxis is underused in hospitalized patients with cancer. Studies have demonstrated that hospitalized patients with cancer are less likely than their non-cancer counterparts to receive vte prophylaxis. Consensus guidelines address the aforementioned issues and emerging concepts in the area, including the use of risk-assessment models, biomarkers to identify patients at highest risk of vte, and use of anticoagulants as anticancer therapy. Despite those guidelines, a gulf exists between current recommendations and clinical practice; greater efforts are thus required to ensure effective implementation of strategies to reduce the incidence of vte in patients with cancer.


Venous thromboembolism

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)