Patients with Lung Cancer Face Heightened Venous Thromboembolism Risk After Surgery

Pharmacy Times, April 2016 Respiratory Health, Volume 82, Issue 4

Patients with lung cancer who undergo surgery may face a higher risk of developing venous thromboembolism than previously thought, according to the results of a pair of recent studies.

Patients with lung cancer who undergo surgery may face a higher risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) than previously thought, according to the results of a pair of recent studies presented at the 95th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery. The first of these studies examined data on 157 patients who underwent thoracic surgery for either primary lung cancer or metastatic cancer. Following surgery, the patients experienced a total of 19 VTE events, a 12.1% incidence rate. Alarmingly, only 21.1% of the patients with a VTE diagnosis showed symptoms, with all of the events identified after discharge and only because the patients were screened for the study. Additionally, the 30-day mortality rate for those with a VTE was 5.2% compared with 0.64% among all patients.

In the second study, researchers compared 112 patients with cancer who underwent pneumonectomy and were later screened for complications, such as VTE, with a group of 336 similar patients from a previous study who were not screened. The research team found that in-hospital VTEs were detected almost 3 times as often among patients who were screened compared with those who were not (8.9% vs 3.0%), with these percentages reaching their peaks (13% vs 5.0%) during the 30-day period following the procedure.

The study authors suggested that postpneumonectomy patients be given blood thinner medications for a longer duration and screened regularly for VTE before and after discharge.