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Venous thromboembolism in surgically treated esophageal cancer patients: a provincial population-based study

Akhtar-Danesh GG, Akhtar-Danesh N, Shargall Y. TH Open. 2022; 06(03):e168-76. Epub 2022 Jul 11. DOI:

Objective — Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in surgical patients. Surgery for esophageal cancer carries a high risk of VTE. This study identifies the risk factors and associated mortality of thrombotic complications among patients undergoing esophageal cancer surgery.

Methods — All patients in the province of Ontario undergoing esophageal cancer surgery from 2007 to 2017 were identified. Logistic regression identified VTE risk factors at 90 days and 1 year postoperatively. A flexible parametric survival analysis compared mortality and survival up to 5 years after surgery for patients with and without a postoperative VTE.

Results — Overall 9,876 patients with esophageal cancer were identified; 2,536 (25.7%) underwent surgery. VTE incidence at 90 days and 1 year postoperatively were 4.1 and 6.3%, respectively. Patient factors including age, sex, performance status, and comorbidities were not associated with VTE risk. VTE risk peaked at 1 month after surgery, with a subsequent decline, plateauing after 6 months. Adenocarcinoma was strongly associated with VTE risk compared with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) (odds ratio [OR] 2.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.38–4.63, p = 0.003). VTE risk decreased with adjuvant chemotherapy (OR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.36–0.94, p = 0.028). Postoperative VTE was associated with decreased survival at 1 and 5 years (hazard ratio = 1.57, 95% CI 1.23–2.00, p < 0.001).

Conclusion — Esophageal cancer patients with postoperative VTE have worse long-term survival compared with those without thrombotic complications. Adenocarcinoma carries a higher VTE risk compared with SCC. Strategies to reduce VTE risk should be considered to reduce the negative impacts on survival conferred by thrombotic events.

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