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Br J Cancer. 2012 Aug 7;107(4):612-6. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.325. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Venous thromboembolism is a relevant and underestimated adverse event in cancer patients treated in phase I studies.

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Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Oncology and Hematology, Ospedali Riuniti, Largo Barozzi 1, Bergamo 24128, Italy.



To investigate, retrospectively, the role of tumour histotype and antiangiogenic drugs for venous thromboembolism (VTE) development in advanced cancer patients treated in phase I studies.


Patients enrolled and treated in phase I studies conducted by SENDO (Southern Europe New Drugs Organisation) were considered.


Data of 1415 patients were included in the analysis: 526 (37.2%) patients were males, median age was 57.3 years (range: 13-85). Fifty-six (3.96%) patients developed a VTE. At multivariate analysis gynaecologic (hazard ratio (HR): 2.8, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.29-6.23, P=0.009) and gastrointestinal tumours (HR: 3.23, 95% CI: 1.18-8.87, P=0.023) as well as combination regimens of cytotoxic and antiangiogenic agents (HR: 2.6, 95% CI: 1.11-6.30, P=0.028), white blood cell >11,000 μl(-1) (HR: 2.59, 95% CI: 1.10-6.09, P=0.028) and haemoglobin<10 g dl(-1) (HR: 3.1, 95% CI: 1.07-8.94, P=0.037) were statistically correlated with VTE development. Venous thromboembolism was the fourth most common cause of drug discontinuation. The median time from first drug administration to discontinuation was 1.4 for VTE and 2.3 months for the other adverse events (P=0.02).


Venous thromboembolism is a relatively common complication among patients treated in the context of phase I studies, and may lead to early drug discontinuation. A greater risk of developing VTE is associated with the diagnosis of gynaecologic and gastrointestinal tumours and the combined use of chemotherapy and antiangiogenic drugs.

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