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Primary thromboprophylaxis for cancer patients with central venous catheters--a reappraisal of the evidence.Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is responsible for an estimated 25 000 deaths per annum in UK hospital practice. It is well established that many of these deaths could be prevented through the use of appropriate thromboprophylaxis. This issue is of particular relevance in oncology practice, where the risks of VTE and bleeding are both significantly higher than those observed in general medical patients. Cancer patients with in-dwelling central venous catheters (CVCs) are at particularly high risk of developing thrombotic complications. However, the literature has produced conflicting conclusions regarding the efficacy of using routine primary thromboprophylaxis in these patients. Indeed such is the level of confusion around this topic, that the most recent version of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) guidelines published in 2004 actually reversed their previous recommendation (published in 2001). Nevertheless, minidose warfarin continues to be routinely used in many oncology centres in the UK. In this article, we have performed a systematic review of the published literature regarding the efficacy and the risks, associated with using thromboprophylaxis (either minidose warfarin or low-dose LMWH) in cancer patients with CVC. On the basis of this evidence, we conclude that there is no proven role for using such thromboprophylaxis. However, asymptomatic CVC-related venous thrombosis remains common, and further more highly powered studies of better design are needed in order to define whether specific subgroups of cancer patients might benefit from receiving thromboprophylaxis.