DVT and Cancer

Cancer is serious enough without the added risk of DVT. Yet research shows cancer patients are particularly vulnerable to this life-threatening condition. Prevention is crucial, considering the following:

  • Complications from DVT are the second leading cause of death among cancer patients11
  • More than 50% of people who died from cancer had developed DVT.12
  • The DVT risk for those undergoing chemotherapy is two times as high as for those without cancer.13


National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for Venous Thromboembolic Disease

VTE Guide for Executive Leadership, Implementing a VTE Prophylaxis Process for Hospitalized Patients: A Supplement to the HSAG VTE Resource Kit

People with tumors have a greater risk of blood clots and about 10% of patients who present with DVT will have an occult cancer diagnosed within two years.
Prandoni P, Lensing AW, et al. Deep-vein thrombosis and the incidence of subsequent symptomatic cancer. N Engl J Med 1992; 327 (16): 1128-33

Although all cancer patients have a higher risk of DVT, it appears to be greater for those with certain types of cancer and if their cancer spread. Those receiving chemotherapy are at even higher risk.
Blom JW, Vanderschoot JP, Oostindier MJ, Osanto S, van der Meer FJ, Rosendaal FR. Incidence of venous thrombosis in a large cohort of 66,329 cancer patients: results of a record linkage study. J Thromb Haemost 2006; 4 (3): 529-35

Cancer patients with VTE face much worse outcomes than those with cancer alone. The probability of death within 183 days of initial hospital admission is over 94% for those with VTE and malignant disease, compared to less than 40% for those with cancer alone.
Levitan N, Dowlati A, Remick SC, Tahsildar HI, Sivinski LD, Beyth R, et al. Rates of initial and recurrent thromboembolic disease among patients with malignancy versus those without malignancy. Risk analysis using Medicare claims data. Medicine (Baltimore) 1999;78 (5): 285-91

Advanced cancers such as breast, prostate, lung and brain have a six times higher risk for VTE that increases further with chemotherapy. Even after surgical resection of the malignancy, VTE remains a common complication of cancer surgery, with a remarkable proportion of events occurring late after surgery. This highlights the importance of assessing a patient’s medical history and how remission may still render a hypercoagulable state.
Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis: Patrick Hsu, M.D.,1 C. Bob Basu, M.D., M.P.H.,1 Mark Venturi, M.D.,2 and Steven Davison, D.D.S., M.D.3  

Caprini Venous Thromboembolism Risk Factor Assessment