Background Unprovoked venous thromboembolism (VTE) is related to a higher incidence of occult cancer. D-dimer is clinically used for screening VTE, and has often been shown to be present in patients with malignancy. We explored the predictive value of D-dimer for detecting occult cancer in patients with unprovoked VTE. Methods We retrospectively examined data from824 patients diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary thromboembolism. Of these, 169 (20.5%) patients diagnosed with unprovoked VTE were selected to participate in this study. D-dimer was categorized into three groups as: <2,000, 2,000-4,000, and >4,000 ng/ml. Cox regression analysis was employed to estimate the odds of occult cancer and metastatic state of cancer according to D-dimer categories. Results During a median 5.3 (interquartile range: 3.4-6.7) years of follow-up, 24 (14%) patients with unprovoked VTE were diagnosed with cancer. Of these patients, 16 (67%) were identified as having been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Log transformed D-dimer levels were significantly higher in those with occult cancer as compared with patients without diagnosis of occult cancer (3.5±0.5 vs. 3.2±0.5, P-value = 0.009, respectively). D-dimer levels >4,000 ng/ml was independently associated with occult cancer (HR: 4.12, 95% CI: 1.54-11.04, Pvalue = 0.005) when compared with D-dimer levels <2,000 ng/ml, even after adjusting for age, gender, and type of VTE (e.g., deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary thromboembolism). D-dimer levels >4000 ng/ml were also associated with a higher likelihood of metastatic cancer (HR: 9.55, 95% CI: 2.46-37.17, P-value <0.001). Conclusion Elevated D-dimer concentrations >4000 ng/ml are independently associated with the likelihood of occult cancer among patients with unprovoked VTE.
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© 2016 Han et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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