Affiliation: Consultant Physician in General Medicine&Prevention of Vascular Disorders Thrombosis Research Institute, Emmanuel Kaye Building, Manresa Road, Chelsea, London SW3 6LR, UK.
Thromboembolic events contribute significantly to the morbidity and mortality in cancer. Effective and safe anticoagulation - mainstay in prevention and treatment of thrombosis - remains very challenging clinical task in oncology patients - population of high rate of treatment failure, bleeding complications and thromboembolic events recurrences. Prospective randomized clinical studies have documented that with advent of low molecular weight heparins new possibilities for thrombosis treatment and long-term prevention with more convenient and safe anticoagulation have emerged. Considerable advances have been achieved at present time in our understanding of the pathobiology of thrombogenesis in human malignancies, particularly of the interactions between coagulation cascade reactions and processes of tumor growth and dissemination. This builds up a new challenge for modern oncology - appreciation of the hypothesis of antimalignant effects of anticoagulants, which could influence the outcome of human cancer. Antineoplastic effects of antithrombotic drugs have been reported in various experimental models. Heparins have been the most extensively studied and have been shown to reduce the primary tumour growth and its metastatic spread. Joint evidence from fundamental research and from several randomized clinical trials, observing beneficial impact of low molecular weight heparins therapy on cancer patients survival, dictate the need for further scientific steps to confirm biological effects of heparins in human malignancies. The evidence is started to accumulate, that clinically approved heparins have different abilities to influence some processes of metastasis spread. The experimental work towards development of heparin derivates with low anticoagulant activity, but with potential inhibitory effects on tumor cells migration is in progress.