Venous thromboembolism (VTE), comprising deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, is a frequent complication in ambulatory cancer patients. Despite the high risk, routine thromboprophylaxis is not recommended because of the high number needed to treat and the risk of bleeding. Two recent trials demonstrated that the number needed to treat can be reduced by selecting cancer patients at high risk for VTE with prediction scores, leading the latest guidelines to suggest such an approach in clinical practice. Yet, the interpretation of these trial results and the translation of the guideline recommendations to clinical practice may be less straightforward. In this clinically-oriented review, some of the controversies are addressed by focusing on the burden of VTE in cancer patients, discussing the performance of available risk assessment scores, and summarizing the findings of recent trials. This overview can help oncologists, hematologists, and vascular medicine specialists decide about thromboprophylaxis in ambulatory cancer patients.
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