Fast Five Quiz: Cancer-Associated Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)

Kenneth A. Bauer, MD


March 17, 2020

Figure 1. Illustration, VTE with cancer cells

Upon physical examination, the presence of shortness of breath, hypoxemia, and tachycardia together should lead to a high clinical suspicion of PE until it is otherwise ruled out. The initiation of anticoagulation in a timely manner is very important.

Patients with PE often experience an acute onset of shortness of breath. Dyspnea is the most frequent symptom of PE. Signs of DVT, lower-extremity swelling, and warmth to touch or tenderness may be present. A smaller PE near the pleura may cause complaints of pleuritic chest pain, cough, or hemoptysis. Massive PE can sometimes present with syncope. Patients may experience an impending sense of doom, accompanied by apprehension and anxiety. Other signs and symptoms include tachypnea (respiratory rate > 18 breaths/min), accentuated second heart sound, fever, and cyanosis. Lung examinations may show normal findings.

Learn more about the history and physical examination of PE.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: