High platelet count associated with venous thromboembolism in cancer patients: results from the Vienna Cancer and Thrombosis Study (CATS)


Ingrid Pabinger-Fasching, Clinical Division of Haematology and Haemostaseology, Department of Medicine I, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.
Tel.: +43 1 40400 4448; fax: +43 1 40400 4030.
E-mail: ingrid.pabinger@meduniwien.ac.at


Summary. Background: In cancer patients, laboratory parameters that predict venous thromboembolism (VTE) are scarce. Increased platelet count has been found to be a risk factor for VTE in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy (CHT). We have assessed high platelet count as a risk predictor for VTE in patients with cancer undergoing discriminative anti-cancer treatments and investigated whether platelet count correlates with thrombopoietin (TPO) levels. Design and methods: The Cancer and Thrombosis Study (CATS) is an ongoing prospective observational study of patients with newly diagnosed cancer or progression of disease, which started in October 2003. Occurrence of VTE and information on the patients’ anti-cancer treatment during follow-up were recorded. Results: Between October 2003 and February 2008, 665 patients with solid tumors were included (314 female/351 male, mean age 62 years). VTE occurred in 44 patients (18 female/26 male, mean age 62 years). The cumulative probability of VTE after 1 year was 34.3% in patients with a platelet count (PC) above the 95th percentile representing 443 × 109/L compared with 5.9% in those below 443 × 109/L. High platelet count [hazard ratio (HR): 3.50, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.52–8.06, P = 0.0032], soluble P-selectin [HR: 2.66, 95% CI: 1.42–4.96, P = 0.0021] and surgery [HR: 4.05, 95% CI: 1.74–9.46, P = 0.0012] were statistically significant risk factors for VTE in multivariable analysis along with leucocyte count, age, gender, radio- and CHT. We found no correlation between platelet count and TPO levels. Conclusions: High PC is a clinically important, independent risk predictor for VTE in cancer patients. PC was not found to be associated with TPO levels.