Clinical course of upper extremity deep vein thrombosis in patients with or without cancer: a systematic review Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: The incidence of upper extremity deep vein thrombosis (UEDVT) is increasing. Information on the clinical course of UEDVT is scarce, especially in cancer patients. AIM: To summarize the clinical evidence regarding long-term clinical outcomes of UEDVT, in terms of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE), mortality, and anticoagulant-related bleeding, in patients with or without concomitant cancer. METHODS: A systematic search of the literature was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE and BIOSIS Previews. Incidence rates for all outcome variables were calculated. RESULTS: In total, 45 studies comprising 4580 patients were included. No randomized controlled trials were identified. In most studies, patients were treated solely with anticoagulants. Among the prospective studies, the incidences of recurrent VTE and bleeding complications averaged 5.1% and 3.1% respectively, during 3 to 59months of follow-up. In the retrospective studies these figures were 9.8% and 6.7% respectively. Among the prospective studies, the mortality rate was 24% after one year. In the retrospective studies this rate was 35%. Cancer patients were found to have a 2- to 3-fold higher risk of recurrent VTE, an 8-fold increased risk of mortality, and a 4-fold increased risk of bleeding during anticoagulant therapy, compared to non-cancer patients. CONCLUSIONS: Studies were very heterogeneous in terms of study design, study populations and treatment approaches. Follow-up durations varied greatly, hampering combined analyses of average incidence rates. There is a need for large prospective studies to provide information on the best management of this disease, especially in high risk groups such as those with cancer.


  • Bleker, Suzanne M
  • van Es, Nick
  • van Gils, Luuk
  • Daams, Joost G
  • Kleinjan, Ankie
  • Büller, Harry R
  • Di Nisio, Marcello

publication date

  • April 2016