The effect of low molecular weight heparin on survival in cancer patients: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials
- Manuscript handled by: F. R. Rosendaal
- Final decision: F. R. Rosendaal, 16 April 2014
Tumors may exploit the coagulation system to enhance the survival and dissemination of cancer cells. Some studies have suggested that heparin and low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) have antitumor effects. We reported a previous meta-analysis that suggested a modest improvement in overall survival with the use of LMWH in patients with cancer. Herein, we present the results of an updated systematic review and meta-analysis.
To evaluate the effect of LMWH as compared with placebo or no anticoagulant on the overall survival in patients with solid cancers.
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials evaluating the use of LMWH vs. placebo or no anticoagulant in cancer patients without venous thrombosis. A meta-analysis was conducted with a random-effects model, and data were analyzed by the use of odds ratios (ORs) and relative risks (RRs) calculated for 1-year overall mortality.
We identified 724 potentially relevant studies, nine of which met our inclusion criteria, and reported data on 1-year overall mortality. Studies were heterogeneous regarding types of cancer and interventions, and included 5987 patients, 98.4% of whom had advanced-stage disease (III and IV). There was no discernible effect on mortality with the use of LMWH (pooled OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.70–1.08; RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.86–1.04).
In contrast to the previous study, these results did not show a survival benefit in cancer patients receiving LMWH. The effect of LMWH on overall survival in patients with limited-stage disease still is unknown.