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Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2012 Jul 10;9(8):437-49. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2012.106.

Thrombosis and cancer.

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Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. annie.young@


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a potentially life-threatening condition that can be associated with significant morbidity. Thrombosis and cancer are linked by numerous pathophysiological mechanisms; the frequency of VTE and the recurrence rate are increased in the cancer population in comparison with other patient groups. VTE is the second most common cause of death in patients with cancer, but can also be the initial presenting complaint in patients with an occult malignancy. Risk factors for cancer-related VTE include tumour type, surgery, chemotherapy and the use of central venous catheters; predictors of VTE for individuals are only now beginning to emerge. Patients with cancer who develop symptomatic VTE during chemotherapy are at a greater risk of early mortality than those without VTE. The apparent impact of VTE on early mortality in patients with cancer raises the question of whether anticoagulation might improve long-term survival in this population, by direct tumour biology-modifying mechanisms. There are widely published guidelines that highlight the benefits of effective VTE strategies in patients with cancer. In partnership with the patient and their carers, the clinical team can improve patient outcomes with optimal risk assessment and concordance with national and international guidelines in the prophylaxis and treatment of VTE.

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