Oral anticoagulation may prolong survival of a subgroup of patients with cancer: A cochrane systematic review

Elie A. Akl, G. Kamath, S. Y. Kim, V. Yosuico, M. Barba, I. Terrenato, F. Sperati, H. J. Schünemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of oral anticoagulants in improving survival of cancer patients. We conducted in January 2007 a comprehensive search for relevant randomized clinical trials (RCTs). We extracted data on methodological quality, participants, interventions and outcomes using a standardized form. Five RCTs fulfilled the inclusion criteria and all compared warfarin to either placebo or no intervention. Their overall methodological quality was acceptable. The effect of warfarin on mortality was not statistically significant at 6 months (RR=0.96; 95% CI 0.80-1.16), at 1 year (RR=0.95; 95% CI 0.86-1.05), at 2 years (RR=0.97; 95% CI 0.87-1.08) or at 5 years (RR 0.91; 95% CI 0.83-1.01). In the subgroup of patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC), warfarin reduced mortality at 6 months (RR=0.69; 95% CI 0.50-0.96) but not at 1 year (RR=0.88; 95% CI 0.77-1.01). This 6 months mortality benefit was statistically significant in the subgroup of extensive SCLC (RR=0.65; 95% CI 0.45-0.93) but not in the subgroup of limited SCLC (RR=0.68; 95% CI 0.36-1.28). Warfarin increased both major bleeding (RR=4.24; 95% CI 1.85-9.68) and minor bleeding (RR=3.34; 95% CI 1.66-6.74). The evidence suggests a survival benefit from warfarin in patients with extensive SCLC, but not in other patient groups. This survival benefit should be weighed against the increased risk for hemorrhage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-184
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007


  • Cancer
  • Coumadin
  • Oral anticoagulant
  • Vitamin K antagonist
  • Warfarin
  • Ximelagatran

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Oral anticoagulation may prolong survival of a subgroup of patients with cancer: A cochrane systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this