• cancer thrombosis;
  • MDCT;
  • PE;
  • Pulmonary embolism;
  • unsuspected PE


Background: While symptomatic venous thromboembolism adversely impacts survival among cancer patients, the outcome of cancer patients with unsuspected pulmonary embolism (UPE) found on routine cancer staging multi-row detector computed tomography (MDCT) scans is unknown. Objective: To determine whether UPE detected on routine staging MDCT scans impacts overall survival among cancer patients. Patients and methods: We performed a matched cohort study of cancer patients diagnosed with UPE on routine staging scans between May 2003 and August 2006. Two controls (n = 137) were individually matched by age (± 5 years), cancer type and stage for each UPE patient (n = 70). We used Cox’s proportional hazard models to compare the mortality between UPE patients and their matched controls. Results: The hazard ratio (HR) for death among UPE patients was 1.51 (95% CI 1.01–2.27, P = 0.048). Compared with their matched controls, patients with UPE more proximal than the subsegmental arterial branches had a HR for death at 6 months of 2.28 (95% CI 1.20–4.33, P = 0.011) and an overall HR of 1.70 (95% CI 1.06–2.74, P = 0.027). Survival among UPE patients with isolated subsegmental PE (ISSPE) was not significantly different than that of matched controls (HR 1.04 95% CI 0.44–2.39, P = 0.92). Conclusions: UPE identified more proximal than the subsegmental arterial branches has a significant negative impact on survival among cancer patients.