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Update on Guidelines for the Prevention of Cancer-Associated Thrombosis

Amro Elshoury, Jordan K. Schaefer, Ming Y. Lim, Deidre P. Skalla, and Michael B. Streiff

Patients with cancer are at high risk of developing arterial and venous thromboembolism (VTE). They constitute 15% to 20% of the patients diagnosed with VTE. Depending on the type of tumor, cancer therapy, and presence of other risk factors, 1% to 25% of patients with cancer will develop thrombosis. The decision to start patients with cancer on primary thromboprophylaxis depends on patient preference, balancing risk of bleeding versus risk of thrombosis, cost, and adequate organ function. Currently, guidelines recommend against the use of routine primary thromboprophylaxis in unselected ambulatory patients with cancer. Validated risk assessment models can accurately identify patients at highest risk for cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT). This review summarizes the recently updated NCCN Guidelines for CAT primary prophylaxis, with a primarily focus on VTE prevention. Two main clinical questions that providers commonly encounter will also be addressed: which patients with cancer should receive primary thromboprophylaxis (both surgical and medical oncology patients) and how to safely choose between different anticoagulation agents.

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How to Choose An Appropriate Anticoagulant for Cancer-Associated Thrombosis

Jordan K. Schaefer, Amro Elshoury, Victoria R. Nachar, Michael B. Streiff, and Ming Y. Lim

Venous thromboembolic disease can be a fatal complication of cancer. Despite advances in prevention, thousands of patients require treatment of cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT) each year. Guidelines have advocated low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) as the preferred anticoagulant for CAT for years, based on clinical trial data showing LMWH to be associated with a lower risk of recurrent thrombosis when compared with vitamin K antagonists. However, the potentially painful, subcutaneously administered LMWH injections can be expensive, and clinical practice has not been consistent with guideline recommendations. Recently, studies have compared LMWH to the direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) for the management of CAT. Based on promising trial results outlined in this review, DOACs are now preferred anticoagulants for CAT occurring in patients without gastric or gastroesophageal lesions. For patients with gastrointestinal cancers, who may be at higher risk of hemorrhage with the DOACs, LMWH remains the anticoagulant of choice. Applying the latest data from this rapidly evolving field to care for diverse patient groups can be challenging. This article provides an evidence-based review of outpatient anticoagulant selection for lower-extremity deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism in the setting of cancer, and takes into account special populations with cancer.

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Optimizing Thromboembolism Prophylaxis for the Contemporary Age of Multiple Myeloma

Muhamed Baljevic, Douglas W. Sborov, Ming Y. Lim, Jens Hillengass, Thomas Martin, Jorge J. Castillo, Michael B. Streiff, Shaji K. Kumar, and Natalie S. Callander

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major complication in all patients with cancer. Compared with the general population, patients with multiple myeloma (MM) have a 9-fold increase in VTE risk, likely because of their malignancy, its treatments, and other additional patient-related factors. In MM, thromboembolism events tend to occur within 6 months of treatment initiation, regardless of treatment regimen; however, the use of immunomodulatory agents such as thalidomide or lenalidomide, especially in combination with dexamethasone or multiagent chemotherapy, is known to create a significant risk for VTE. Currently, official recommendations for VTE prophylaxis in MM outlined in various national guidelines or multidisciplinary society panels are based on expert opinion, because data from randomized controlled trials are scarce. Large studies which have mainly focused on the efficacy of thromboprophylaxis in patients with cancer at higher risk for VTE either had a very low representation of patients with MM, or excluded them all together, limiting our ability to draw evidence-based conclusions on how to effectively protect MM population from VTE. In this brief perspective, we highlight some of the greatest challenges that have hampered the field concerning the availability of high-quality clinical trial data for the formulation of best VTE prophylaxis strategies in patients with newly diagnosed MM, as well as the rationale for the latest updates in the NCCN Guidelines on this topic.