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What’s the best VTE treatment for patients with cancer?

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Non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants vs LMWH/VKA or VKA: No differences

A meta-analysis of RCTs comparing NOACs (dabigatran, edoxaban, apixaban, rivaroxaban) with VKA for 6 months found no differences in recurrent VTE or major bleeding.2

A second meta-analysis of RCTs that compared NOACs (rivaroxaban, dabigatran, apixaban) with control (LMWH followed by VKA) in adult cancer patients (mean ages, 54-66 years; 50%-60% men) reported no difference in the composite outcome of recurrent VTE or VTE-related death nor clinically significant bleeding over 1 to 36 months (most RCTs ran 3-12 months).5 Separate comparisons for rivaroxaban and dabigatran found no difference in the composite outcome, and rivaroxaban also produced no difference in clinically-significant bleeding.


The 2016 CHEST guidelines recommend LMWH as first-line treatment for VTE in patients with cancer and indicate no preference between NOACs and VKA for second-line treatment.6

Evidence-based answers from the Family Physicians Inquiries Network

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