Advances in managing and preventing thromboembolic disease in cancer patients

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To update on new data for low-molecular weight heparins (LMWHs) and the direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) for the treatment and prevention of cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT), to discuss progress with the risk-adaptive management scores (RAMS) and update on increased dose primary thromboprophylaxis (IDPTP).

Recent findings

In a pooled meta-analysis of 1132 cancer patients who received DOACs vs. vitamin K analogues (VKAs), recurrence of venous thromboembolism (VTE) was reduced from 6.0% on VKA schedules to 3.9% on DOACs. In a randomized trial of warfarin vs. once daily sc. tinzaparin (175 IU/kg), cumulative 6-month VTE incidence reduced from 10.5 to 7.2% [hazard ratio, 0.65 (95% confidence interval, 0.41–1.03); P = 0.07]. Despite early suggestions that DOACs may have a role in CAT, 3–6 months of LMWH remain the standard for initial treatment of CAT. A prospective comparison of RAMS found the Vienna CATS or the PROTECHT scores superior to the Khorana score but concluded that RAMS did not perform well enough to be used in the clinic. An efficacy scale of LMWHs in pancreatic cancer facilitates IDPTP. Practical implementation of IDPTP was needed to control the 40% VTE incidence of the HALO-109–202 study in metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Summary

DOACs have some encouraging data, but LMWHs remain the standard for CAT treatment. RAMS generated to predict VTE occurrence or recurrence are still of unproven significance and IDPTP for advanced pancreatic cancer has tools and guidance for implementation.

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