Venous Thromboembolism in Gynecological Malignancy

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Abstract

Objective

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a recognized complication of gynecological malignancy and represents a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in these patients. The review aimed to discuss the incidence, risk factors, and clinical presentation of VTE before examining the literature on the diagnosis, prevention, and management in the context of uterine, cervical, ovarian, and vulval cancers.

Methods/Materials

A literature search was performed using Ovid Medline and Embase with the following words: “gynecological malignancy,” “pelvic tumor,” “venous thromboembolism,” “deep vein thrombosis” and “pulmonary embolism.”

Results

The incidence of VTE in patients with gynecological malignancy ranged between 3% and 25% and was affected by several patient and tumor factors. Duplex ultrasonography is currently the first-line imaging modality for deep venous thrombosis with sensitivity and specificity of up to 95% and 100%, respectively. Low-molecular-weight heparin is currently the VTE prophylaxis and treatment of choice for patients with gynecological malignancy, although warfarin and unfractionated heparin play a role in selected circumstances. The relatively new direct oral anticoagulants including factor Xa inhibitors and direct thrombin inhibitors are increasingly being used, although further evaluations are required, particularly in cancer patients. Catheter-directed thrombolysis and percutaneous mechanical and surgical thrombectomy may have a role in treating patients with severe symptomatic iliocaval or iliofemoral deep venous thrombosis. Overall, VTE is a poor prognosis marker in patients with gynecological malignancy.

Conclusions

Gynecological malignancy–associated VTE is associated with significant morbidity, contributing to a large number of life years lost. Although promising new therapies are emerging, a 2-pronged approach is required to simultaneously target cancer-specific management and predict early on those who are likely to be affected. In the meantime, clinicians should continue to combine current guidelines with a multidisciplinary team approach to ensure that these complex patients receive the best evidence-based and compassionate care.

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