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Systematic review and meta-analysis of the risk of severe and life-threatening thromboembolism in cancer patients receiving anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies (cetuximab or panitumumab)

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JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
DateAccepted/In press - 12 Jul 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 23 Jul 2016
Issue number10
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)2370–2380
Early online date23/07/16
Original languageEnglish


Cancer-associated thromboembolism is a substantial problem in clinical practice. An increase in the level of fibrinopeptide A (a substance associated with hypercoagulable states) has been observed in humans exposed to fluorouracil. Anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies cetuximab and panitumumab, which are now widely used in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, could prolong the uncovering of endothelial structures resulting from flouorouracil or other co-administered agents, thus favouring several factors leading to thromboembolism. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised, controlled trials assessing whether cancer patients receiving anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies cetuximab and panitumumab are at increased risk of thromboembolic events. We searched electronic databases (Medline, Embase, Web of Science, Central) and reference lists. Phase II/III randomised, controlled trials comparing standard anti-cancer regimens with or without anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies and reporting serious venous thromboembolic events were included in the analysis. Seventeen studies (12,870 patients) were considered for quantitative analysis. The relative risk (RR) for venous thromboembolism (18 comparisons) was 1.46 (95% CI 1.26 to 1.69); the RR of pulmonary embolism, on the basis of eight studies providing nine comparisons, was 1.55 (1.20 to 2.00). Cancer patients receiving anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies-containing regimens are approximately 1.5 times more likely to experience venous or pulmonary embolism, compared to those treated with the same regimens without anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies. Clinicians should consider patient's baseline thromboembolic risk when selecting regimens that include cetuximab or panitumumab. Potential non-reporting of these important adverse events remains a concern. PROSPERO registration number is CRD42014009165.

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