VTE Incidence, Recurrence Rates High Among Leukemia Patients


Patients with acute leukemia (AL) exhibited a high rate of venous thromboembolism (VTE), along with high recurrence rates, according to research presented at the 59th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 9-12, 2017; Atlanta, GA).

Multiple studies have addressed the risk for VTE in patients with hematologic malignancies. However, a lack of data remains regarding VTE risk in adult patients with leukemia, and little standardization of VTE treatment exists in this population.

Yuqi Wang, MD, FRCPC, Ottawa Blood Disease Center (Canada), and colleagues performed a chart review of all patients diagnosed with AL at their institution between January 2007 and September 2015 (n = 440). VTE was identified based on positive diagnostic scans or positive documentation. Researchers also observed incidence of thrombocytopenia, which they defined as a platelet count less than 50x109/L.

A total of 41 patients (men, n = 21; women, n = 20) developed 59 VTE events during the study period (total incidence, 9.3%). Twelve patients (29.3%) developed recurrent VTE.

The majority of events (n = 46) were extremity deep vein thrombi. The remaining events were pulmonary emboli (n = 12) or portal vein thrombosis (n = 1).


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Fifteen patients (36.6%) experienced VTE while concurrently thrombocytopenic. Five patients with VTE (12.2%) experienced major bleeding events.

“Anticoagulation in this population is frequently complicated by thrombocytopenia due to underlying leukemia and chemotherapy,” researchers wrote. “The optimal management of VTE in this population is not defined and remains variable. Developing a standard management protocol for the prevention and treatment of VTE in this high-risk population would be important in reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with VTE.”Cameron Kelsall