Thromboembolism and Cancer

Common cancers (lung, breast, colon, prostate) are associated with acute VTE, although the frequency of VTE is greatest (~1%) with cancers of the ovary, brain, and pancreas [1]. Some of the molecular mechanisms of tumor-related thrombosis have been described [2]. Therapy with low-molecular-weight heparin has been found to prevent recurrences better than warfarin and is not associated with increased bleeding [3].

Acute PE in a Patient with Lung Cancer

A thromboembolus (lower arrow) showing pale strands (lines of Zahn) embedded in dark red coagulum fills branching segmental arteries adjacent to a mass of tumor (upper arrow). The tumor was a bronchioloalveolar carcinoma.

References: To return to reference section after viewing abstract, click here before clicking on "abstract".

1. Lee A, Levine M. Venous thromboembolism and cancer: risks and outcomes. Circulation 2003;107: I17-I21. Abstract

2. Bick R. Cancer-associated thrombosis. N Engl J Med 2003; 349:109-111.

3. Lee A, Levine M, Baker R, Bowden C, Kakkar A, Prins M, Rickles F, et al. Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin versus a Coumarin for the Prevention of Recurrent Venous Thromboembolism in Patients with Cancer. N Engl J Med. 2003; 349:146-153. Abstract

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