Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common, life-threatening condition in patients with cancer, which includes both deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. The occurrence of VTE has been reported to increase the likelihood of death for cancer patients by 2- to 8-fold. Pathophysiologic explanations for VTE in cancer include known hypercoagulability, vessel wall damage, and vessel stasis from direct compression, and the incidence of VTE in cancer is increased by additional risks factors. The NCCN guidelines specifically outline strategies to prevent and treat VTE in adult cancer patients. These guidelines are characterized by evaluations of the therapeutic advantages of pharmacologic anticoagulation measures based on both perceived risk for bleeding (i.e., contraindications to anticoagulation) and cancer status. Important updates for 2008 include new work-up recommendations and changes in the recommendations for outpatient prophylaxis and diagnosis and for treatment of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.
For the most recent version of the guidelines, please visit NCCN.org