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      Fondaparinux vs warfarin for the treatment of unsuspected pulmonary embolism in cancer patients

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          In cancer patients, the chest computer tomography (CT) can be used to identify asymptomatic pulmonary embolism (APE). In most cases, these patients are treated with anticoagulant drugs for at least 3 months. The American College of Physicians recommend treatment of these patients as patients with symptomatic pulmonary embolism. In this study, we evaluated and compared the efficacy and safety of fondaparinux vs warfarin in the prevention of unsuspected pulmonary embolism in patients with active cancer.

          Materials and methods

          A prospective and parallel group study was performed on 64 cancer patients (29 males and 35 females) with APE. A multidetector CT angiography with high spatial and temporal resolution and quality of arterial opacification was used to make the diagnosis. Lung scintigraphy was reserved to selected patients only. Patients were randomized to either the warfarin (Group A) or the fondaparinux (Group B) for 90 days. The first end point of efficacy was the persistence, reduction, or disappearance of thrombosis after 90 days. The second end point was the reappearance of thrombosis after 1 year. The first end point of safety was the development of major bleeding.


          We enrolled 32 patients into each treatment group. We reached the first end point of efficacy and safety in Group B which showed that fondaparinux was able to induce the disappearance of thrombotic pulmonary with a lower incidence of major bleeding events compared with warfarin. No difference in the secondary end point was recorded.


          We suggest that the treatment of cancer patients with APE can be oriented with the administration of a standard dose of fondaparinux until the next CT lung control (3 months). However, the lack of a randomized clinical trial, including a larger patient cohort, does not allow formulation of final recommendations in these patients. A broader study would be desirable, involving a larger number of patients and a longer follow-up period.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Low-molecular-weight heparin versus a coumarin for the prevention of recurrent venous thromboembolism in patients with cancer.

          Patients with cancer have a substantial risk of recurrent thrombosis despite the use of oral anticoagulant therapy. We compared the efficacy of a low-molecular-weight heparin with that of an oral anticoagulant agent in preventing recurrent thrombosis in patients with cancer. Patients with cancer who had acute, symptomatic proximal deep-vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or both were randomly assigned to receive low-molecular-weight heparin (dalteparin) at a dose of 200 IU per kilogram of body weight subcutaneously once daily for five to seven days and a coumarin derivative for six months (target international normalized ratio, 2.5) or dalteparin alone for six months (200 IU per kilogram once daily for one month, followed by a daily dose of approximately 150 IU per kilogram for five months). During the six-month study period, 27 of 336 patients in the dalteparin group had recurrent venous thromboembolism, as compared with 53 of 336 patients in the oral-anticoagulant group (hazard ratio, 0.48; P=0.002). The probability of recurrent thromboembolism at six months was 17 percent in the oral-anticoagulant group and 9 percent in the dalteparin group. No significant difference between the dalteparin group and the oral-anticoagulant group was detected in the rate of major bleeding (6 percent and 4 percent, respectively) or any bleeding (14 percent and 19 percent, respectively). The mortality rate at six months was 39 percent in the dalteparin group and 41 percent in the oral-anticoagulant group. In patients with cancer and acute venous thromboembolism, dalteparin was more effective than an oral anticoagulant in reducing the risk of recurrent thromboembolism without increasing the risk of bleeding. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Tinzaparin vs Warfarin for Treatment of Acute Venous Thromboembolism in Patients With Active Cancer: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

            Low-molecular-weight heparin is recommended over warfarin for the treatment of acute venous thromboembolism (VTE) in patients with active cancer largely based on results of a single, large trial.
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              Relative impact of risk factors for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism: a population-based study.

              To assess the potential impact of controlling risk factors on the incidence of venous thromboembolism by estimating the population attributable risk (defined as the percentage of all cases of a disease in a population that can be "attributed" to a risk factor) for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism associated with venous thromboembolism risk factors. Using data from a population-based, nested, case-control study of the 625 Olmsted County, Minnesota, residents with a definite first lifetime deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism diagnosed during the 15-year period 1976 to 1990 and 625 unaffected Olmsted County residents matched for age and sex, we developed a conditional logistic regression model appropriate to the matched case-control study design and then estimated attributable risk for the risk factors individually and collectively. Fifty-nine percent of the cases of venous thromboembolism in the community could be attributed to institutionalization (current or recent hospitalization or nursing home residence). Hospitalization for surgery (24%) and for medical illness (22%) accounted for a similar proportion of the cases, while nursing home residence accounted for 13%. The individual attributable risk estimates for malignant neoplasm, trauma, congestive heart failure, central venous catheter or pacemaker placement, neurological disease with extremity paresis, and superficial vein thrombosis were 18%, 12%, 10%, 9%, 7%, and 5%, respectively. Together, the 8 risk factors accounted for 74% of disease occurrence. Factors associated with institutionalization independently account for more than 50% of all cases of venous thromboembolism in the community. Greater emphasis should be placed on prophylaxis for hospitalized medical patients. Other recognized risk factors account for about 25% of all cases of venous thromboembolism, while the remaining 25% of cases are idiopathic.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                23 June 2016
                : 10
                : 2041-2046
                [1 ]Interuniversity Center of Phlebolymphology, International Research and Educational Program in Clinical and Experimental Biotechnology, University Magna Graecia of Catanzaro, Viale Europa, Catanzaro
                [2 ]Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University of Naples “Federico II”, Naples
                [3 ]Department of Health Sciences
                [4 ]Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Raffaele Serra, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Catanzaro, Viale Europa, Catanzaro 88100, Italy, Tel +39 961 364 7380, Email rserra@ 123456unicz.it

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2016 Amato et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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