The effect of low molecular weight heparin on survival in cancer patients: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials

Authors

  • D. Sanford,

    1. Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, London Health Sciences Centre, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
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  • A. Naidu,

    1. Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, London Health Sciences Centre, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
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  • N. Alizadeh,

    1. Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, London Health Sciences Centre, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
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  • A. Lazo-Langner

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, London Health Sciences Centre, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
    • Correspondence: Alejandro Lazo-Langner, Hematology Division, London Health Sciences Centre, 800 Commissioners Rd E, Rm E6-216A, London, Ontario N6A 5W9, Canada.

      Tel.: +1 519 685 8500 ext. 58631; fax: +1 519 685 8477.

      E-mail: alejandro.lazolangner@lhsc.on.ca

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  • Manuscript handled by: F. R. Rosendaal
  • Final decision: F. R. Rosendaal, 16 April 2014

Summary

Background

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.

Objective

To evaluate the effect of LMWH as compared with placebo or no anticoagulant on the overall survival in patients with solid cancers.

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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.

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