Classically, anticoagulant (AC) of choice in active malignancy with venous thromboembolism (VTE) has been low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH) (eg, enoxaparin) because of trials showing its superiority over warfarin. But now the pendulum is swinging toward DOACs as an alternative mode of treatment.
A 2018 trial found that oral edoxaban (an Xa inhibitor) was noninferior to subcutaneous dalteparin (a LMWH) with the composite outcome of recurrent VTE or major bleeding.1 Overall, recurrent VTE was significantly lower in edoxaban (7.9% vs 11.3%) but had higher major bleeding (6.9% vs 4.05). Of note, edoxaban was initiated after 5 days of treatment with LMWH.
More recently, the 2020 Caravaggio trial, showed non-inferiority of apixaban (at a dose of 10 mg twice daily for the first 7 days, followed by 5 mg twice daily) to dalteparin with recurrent VTE of 5.6% in the apixaban group vs 7.9% in the dalteparin.2 There was no significant difference in rates of major bleeding (3.8% vs 4%). A prior small study, the ADAM-VTE trial, compared apixaban to dalteparin in patients with malignancy and VTE.3 Apixaban had significantly lower VTE recurrence rates (0.7% to 6.3%) and non-significant lower major bleeding (0% vs 1.4%, p=0.138) consistent with the newer and larger trial. Of note, this trial excluded patients with brain tumor and had few patients with upper GI or hematologic malignancy.
In addition, a pilot study, the SELECT-D trial, compared rivaroxaban to dalteparin.4 Rivaroxaban had significantly lower VTE recurrence (4% vs 11%), without a significant increase in major bleeding (6% vs 4%), but had an increased number of clinically relevant non-major bleeds (13% vs 4%), particularly in cancers of the upper GI tract.
Although decision regarding use of DOACs in patients with malignancy should be made on case-by-case basis, they are increasingly considered for treatment of VTE in this patient population with the strongest evidence supporting apixaban or the initial use of LMWH for 5 days followed by edoxaban.
Contributed by Sean Mendez MD, Mass General Hospital, Boston, MA.
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