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Cancer. 2011 Aug 15;117(16):3860-6. doi: 10.1002/cncr.25941. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Incidence of pulmonary embolism in oncologic outpatients at a tertiary cancer center.

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Department of Imaging, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



Incidence of pulmonary embolism (PE) for different cancer types in oncology outpatients is unknown. The purposes of the current study is to determine the incidence of PE in oncology outpatients and to investigate whether the incidence for PE is higher in certain cancers.


A cohort of oncology outpatients who had imaging studies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a tertiary outpatient cancer institute, from January 2004 through December 2009 was identified using research patient data registry. Radiology reports were reviewed to identify patients who developed PE. Incidences of PE in the total population and in each of 16 predefined cancer groups were calculated. Risk of PE for each cancer was compared using Fisher exact test.


A total of 13,783 patients was identified, of which 395 (2.87%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.59-3.16) developed PE. The incidence of PE was highest in the central nervous system ([CNS] 12.90%; 95% CI, 8.45-18.59), hepatobiliary (6.85%; 95% CI, 3.33-12.24), pancreatic (5.81%; 95% CI, 3.59-8.84), and upper gastrointestinal (5.81%; 95% CI, 3.96-8.20) malignancies. The risk of PE was significantly higher for CNS (P < .0001; odds ratio [OR], 5.28), pancreatic (P = .0027; OR, 2.15), upper gastrointestinal (P = .0002; OR, 2.18), and lung/pleural malignancies (P = .0028; OR, 1.45). There was significantly lower risk of PE for hematologic (incidence, 1.16%; 95% CI, 0.79-1.64; P < .0001; OR, 0.35) and breast malignancies (incidence, 1.50%; 95% CI, 1.02-2.11; P < .0001; OR, 0.47).


The incidence of PE in oncology outpatients in a tertiary cancer center during a 6-year period was 2.87%. CNS, pancreatic, upper gastrointestinal, and lung/pleural malignancies had a significantly higher risk for PE than other malignancies, whereas hematologic and breast malignancies had a significantly lower risk.

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