Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Advances in the management of cancer-associated thrombosis

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-06-30, 16:55 authored by Sukhraj Pal Singh Dhami, Sean PatmoreSean Patmore, Jamie O'SullivanJamie O'Sullivan
The association between cancer and venous thromboembolism (VTE) has been established for more than 150 years. Nevertheless, cancer-associated thrombosis still remains a major clinical challenge and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality for patients with cancer. The clinical presentation of cancer-associated thrombosis can be distinct from that of a patient without an underlying malignancy. Moreover, specific cancer types, including pancreatic cancer and hematological malignancies, as well as advanced stage disease can confer a significant thrombotic risk. This risk is further augmented by specific anticancer treatment modalities. The pathophysiology of cancer-associated thrombosis is complex and multifactorial. However, understanding the biological mechanisms underpinning VTE risk may provide insight into novel targeted prophylaxis in cancer patients. Over the last decade, low-molecular-weight heparin has been the preferred anticoagulant agent for patients with cancer-associated thrombosis due to improved efficacy compared with Vitamin K antagonists. However, the advent of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) has added to the repertoire of ammunition now at the disposal of clinicians to aid in the management of cancer-associated thrombosis. Several randomized controlled trials have now been published, demonstrating DOAC as a noninferior alternative for both the treatment and prevention of cancer-associated thrombosis. Notwithstanding this, limitations for their widespread use remain, with the potential for increased bleeding risk, drug interactions, and poor DOAC metabolism. This review discusses the evidence base for the incidence and risk factors associated with VTE in cancer, development, and refinement of risk prediction models and novel advances in the therapeutic management of cancer-associated thrombosis.



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Published Citation

Dhami SPS, Patmore S, O'Sullivan JM. Advances in the management of cancer-associated thrombosis. Semin Thromb Hemost. 2021;47(2):139-149.

Publication Date

26 February 2021

PubMed ID



  • Irish Centre for Vascular Biology
  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Research Area

  • Health Professions Education
  • Vascular Biology
  • Immunity, Infection and Inflammation
  • Cancer


Georg Thieme Verlag KG


  • Accepted Version (Postprint)