From the Journals

ASCO VTE guideline update: DOACs now an option for prevention, treatment


The direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) apixaban and rivaroxaban are now among the options for thromboprophylaxis in high-risk cancer outpatients with low risk for bleeding and drug interactions, according to a practice guideline update from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A DVT blood clot is shown Sebastian Kaulitzki/Thinkstock

Rivaroxaban also has been added as an option for initial anticoagulation for venous thromboembolism (VTE), and both rivaroxaban and edoxaban are now options for long-term anticoagulation, Nigel S. Key, MB ChB, and colleagues wrote in the updated guideline on the prophylaxis and treatment of VTE – including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) – in cancer patients (J Clin Oncol. 2019 Aug 5. doi: 10.1200/JCO.19.19.01461).

The addition of DOACs as options for VTE prophylaxis and treatment represents the most notable change to the guideline.

“Oral anticoagulants that target thrombin (direct thrombin inhibitor, dabigatran) or activated factor X (antifactor Xa inhibitors, rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban) are now approved for treatment of DVT or PE as well as for DVT prophylaxis following orthopedic surgery and for reducing the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation,” the guideline panel wrote.

A systematic review of PubMed and the Cochrane Library for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses of RCTs published from Aug. 1, 2014, through Dec. 4, 2018, identified 35 publications on VTE prophylaxis and treatment, including 2 RCTs of DOACs for prophylaxis and 2 others of DOAC treatment, as well as 8 publications on VTE risk assessment. A multidisciplinary expert panel appointed by ASCO and cochaired by Dr. Key of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, used this evidence to develop the updated guideline.

The work was guided by “the ‘signals’ approach that is designed to identify only new, potentially practice-changing data – signals – that might translate into revised practice recommendations,” the authors explained.

DOAC-related updates

VTE prophylaxis. Based in part on findings from the recently published AVERT trial of apixaban in patients initiating a new course of chemotherapy and from the CASSINI trial of rivaroxaban in patients with solid tumors or lymphoma starting systemic antineoplastic therapy, the panel added both agents as thromboprophylactic options that can be offered to high-risk cancer outpatients with no significant risk factors for bleeding or drug interactions (N Engl J Med. 2019;380:711-19; N Engl J Med. 2019;380:720-8).

Low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) also remains an option in such patients; consideration of therapy should involve discussion with the patient about relative benefits and harms, drug costs, and “the uncertainty surrounding duration of prophylaxis in this setting,” they wrote.

Anticoagulation for VTE. Options for initial anticoagulation include LMWH, unfractionated heparin (UFH), fondaparinux, and now rivaroxaban, with the latter added based on findings from two RCTs – the SELECT-D trial and the Hokusai VTE-Cancer study – and multiple meta-analyses (J Clin Oncol. 2018;36:2017-23; N Engl J Med. 2018;378:615-24).

Long-term anticoagulation can involve treatment with LMWH, edoxaban, or rivaroxaban for at least 6 months, all of which have improved efficacy versus vitamin K agonists (VKAs), the panel noted. However, VKAs may be used if LMWH and DOACs are not accessible.

Importantly, the literature indicates an increased risk of major bleeding with DOACs, particularly in patients with gastrointestinal malignancies and potentially in those with genitourinary malignancies. “Caution with DOACs is also warranted in other settings with high risk for mucosal bleeding,” the panel wrote.


Next Article: