Unprovoked venous thromboembolism (VTE) may be the earliest sign of malignancy, and as a result, screening for occult cancer in these patients has become routine practice. However, the elaborateness of this screening is subject to debate and varies between medical centres. This study’s expert panel, consisting of oncologists and thrombosis specialists, aimed to develop a practical Belgian guidance for adequate cancer screening in patients with unprovoked VTE. In summary, comprehensive non-invasive cancer screening consisting of a medical history assessment, physical examinations, basic blood tests and a chest X-ray is sufficient to pick up the vast majority of occult cancers. When specific abnormalities are picked up by the battery of tests in the comprehensive non-invasive cancer screening, more extensive screening using CT scans are recommended. Routine CT screening in all patients presenting with an unprovoked VTE does not provide a significant clinical benefit and should not be routinely performed. In the presence of specific risk factors (e.g., older age, smoking history, previous VTE), physicians are advised to be more vigilant. Finally, given the significant anxiety that cancer screening may cause to patients, accurate and clear patient communication is key. A complete list of guidance statements is provided at the end of the article.
(BELG J MED ONCOL 2018;12(7):326–329)