Oncologic Emergencies: Too Much Clotting—Venous Thromboembolism in Malignancy

Brit Long, Alex Koyfman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Malignancy predisposes patients to higher risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), which is the second leading cause of death in patients with cancer. Objective: This narrative review evaluates VTE in malignancy and the emergency medicine investigation and management of this patient population. Discussion: Patients with malignancy are at higher risk of VTE, including deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Risk factors include the underlying cancer, other hematologic disorders, cancer therapies, and underlying comorbidities. While patients with malignancy and VTE can present similarly to those without malignancy, incidental VTE is more common in cancer patients. Existing scores such as the Wells and Revised Geneva score can assist in risk stratification in patients with malignancy. A negative D-dimer result in the appropriately risk-stratified patient can be used to exclude VTE, though D-dimer is more commonly elevated at baseline in patients with malignancy. Several scoring systems may be useful to predict recurrent risk of VTE, including the Khorana and Ottawa scores. Treatment includes anticoagulation with direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) or low molecular weight heparin (LMWH). Outpatient therapy may be appropriate in select patients. Conclusions: This narrative review provides key updates in the assessment and management of cancer patients with VTE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-835
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • anticoagulation
  • cancer
  • deep venous thrombosis
  • malignancy
  • pulmonary embolism
  • venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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