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J Thromb Haemost. 2004 Jun;2(6):884-9.

Extensive screening for occult malignant disease in idiopathic venous thromboembolism: a prospective randomized clinical trial.

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Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Second Division of Internal Medicine, University of Padua, Italy.


Patients with symptomatic idiopathic venous thromboembolism and apparently cancer-free have an approximate 10% incidence of subsequent cancer. Apparently cancer-free patients with acute idiopathic venous thromboembolism were randomized to either the strategy of extensive screening for occult cancer or to no further testing. Patients had a 2-year follow-up period. Of the 201 patients, 99 were allocated to the extensive screening group and 102 to the control group. In 13 (13.1%) patients, the extensive screening identified occult cancer. In the extensive screening group, a single (1.0%) malignancy became apparent during follow-up, whereas in the control group a total of 10 (9.8%) malignancies became symptomatic [relative risk, 9.7 (95% CI, 1.3-36.8; P < 0.01]. Overall, malignancies identified in the extensive screening group were at an earlier stage and the mean delay to diagnosis was reduced from 11.6 to 1.0 months (P < 0.001). Cancer-related mortality during the 2 years follow-up period occurred in two (2.0%) of the 99 patients of the extensive screening group vs. four (3.9%) of the 102 control patients [absolute difference, 1.9% (95% CI, -5.5-10.9)]. Although early detection of occult cancers may be associated with improved treatment possibilities, it is uncertain whether this improves the prognosis.

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