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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

Editor-in-Chief: Plebani, Mario

Editorial Board Member: Gillery, Philippe / Kazmierczak, Steven / Lackner, Karl J. / Lippi, Giuseppe / Melichar, Bohuslav / Schlattmann, Peter / Whitfield, John B.

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Changes of the Coagulation and Fibrinolysis System in Malignancy: Their possible Impact on Future Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures

Wolfgang Korte

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Volume 38, Issue 8, Pages 679–692, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: 10.1515/CCLM.2000.099, June 2005

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The interaction between malignant cell growth and the coagulation and fibrinolysis system has been a well known phenomenon for decades. During recent years, this area of research has received new attention. Experimental data suggest a role for the coagulation and fibrinolysis system in tumor development, progression and metastasis. Also, clinical research suggests that targeting the coagulation system or fibrinolysis system might influence the course of malignant disease beneficially. This paper reviews data on various hemostatic and fibrinolytic parameters in malignancy; the possible use of such parameters as risk markers in oncology patients; and possible targets of anti-neoplastic therapies using anticoagulant and/or antifibrinolytic strategies. Current evidence suggests that the tissue factor/factor VIIa pathway mediates the most abundant procoagulant stimulus in malignancy via the increase in thrombin generation. Tissue factor has been suggested to mediate pro-metastatic properties via coagulation-dependent and coagulation-independent pathways; tissue factor has also been implicated in tumor neo-angiogenesis. However, so far no model has been validated that would allow the use of tissue factor in its soluble or insoluble form as a marker for risk stratification in tumor patients. On the other hand, there is now good evidence that parts of the fibrinolytic system, such as urokinase-type plasminogen activator and its receptor (“uPAR”), can be used as strong predictors of outcome in several types of cancer, specifically breast cancer. Observation of various treatment options in patients with thomboembolic disease and cancer as well as attempts to use anticoagulants and/or therapies modulating the fibrinolytic system as anti-neoplastic treatment strategies have yielded exciting results. These data indicate that anticoagulant therapy, and specifically low molecular weight heparin therapy, is likely to have anti-neoplastic effects; and that their use in addition to chemotherapy will probably improve outcome of tumor treatment in certain types of cancer. However, the body of clinical data is still relatively small and the question whether or not we should routinely consider the coagulation and/or fibrinolysis system as therapeutic targets in cancer patients is yet to be answered.

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