Coagulopathic complications in breast cancer

G Caine, Paul Stonelake, Daniel Rea, Gregory Lip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Citations (Scopus)


Patients with cancer are highly susceptible to thromboembolic complications, which account for a significant percentage of the morbidity and mortality of the disease. Up to 15% of patients with clinically overt cancer present with venous thromboembolism during the course of their disease. Moreover, patients with cancer represent 20% of all patients in whom deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are diagnosed. This prothrombotic state in cancer can occur due to the ability of tumor cells to directly activate the blood-clotting cascade and cause thrombosis or induce procoagulant properties and inhibit anticoagulant properties of vascular endothelial cells, platelets, monocytes, and macrophages. It also is well established that this prothrombotic tendency in patients with cancer can be enhanced greatly by anticancer treatments, such as surgery and chemotherapy. This phenomenon can be seen in patients with breast cancer, particularly after surgery and chemotherapy. Increased clotting risk also is associated with the use of central venous access devices, commonly used to administer chemotherapeutic agents in patients with cancer. Thrombosis prophylaxis, therefore, should be considered for patients with breast cancer who are at risk before and during intervention. In the current review, the authors discuss the problem of thromboembolism in patients with breast cancer who are undergoing therapy, the mechanisms by which thromboembolisms occur, and the potential strategies by which these events may be prevented. Better understanding of these pathogenetic pathways may lead to the development of more targeted strategies to prevent thromboembolism in patients with cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1578-1586
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2003


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