Trousseau sign of malignancy

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Trousseau sign of malignancy
Differential diagnosis thrombophlebitis migrans

The Trousseau sign of malignancy or Trousseau's syndrome is a medical sign involving episodes of vessel inflammation due to blood clot (thrombophlebitis) which are recurrent or appearing in different locations over time (thrombophlebitis migrans or migratory thrombophlebitis). The location of the clot is tender and the clot can be felt as a nodule under the skin. [1] Trousseau's syndrome is a rare variant of venous thrombosis that is characterized by recurrent, migratory thrombosis in superficial veins and in uncommon sites, such as the chest wall and arms. This syndrome is particularly associated with pancreatic, gastric and lung cancer and Trousseau's syndrome can be an early sign of cancer [2] [3] sometimes appearing months to years before the tumor would be otherwise detected. [4] Heparin therapy is recommended to prevent future clots. [5] The Trousseau sign of malignancy should not be confused with the Trousseau sign of latent tetany caused by low levels of calcium in the blood.



Armand Trousseau first described this finding in the 1860s; he later found the same sign in himself, was subsequently diagnosed with gastric cancer and died soon thereafter. [6] Trousseau presciently attributed thromboembolism in malignancy to changes in blood composition rather than local inflammatory or mechanical forces. By correlating clinical observation with surgical and autopsy findings, Trousseau recognized that a localized cancer could induce a generalized hypercoagulable state in which thrombosis could occur elsewhere in the body, such as in extremities with visceral malignancy. Trousseau described several cases in which recurrent thrombosis was the presenting feature of visceral cancer, and his confidence in the utility of this connection led him to say, "So great, in my opinion, is the semiotic value of phlegmasia in the cancerous cachexia, that I regard this phlegmasia as a sign of the cancerous diathesis as certain as sanguinolent effusion into the serous cavities."


Some malignancies, especially gliomas (25%), as well as adenocarcinomas of the pancreas and lung, are associated with hypercoagulability (the tendency to form blood clots) for reasons that are incompletely understood, but may be related to factors secreted by the tumors, in particular a circulating pool of cell-derived tissue factor-containing microvesicles. [7] Some adenocarcinomas secrete mucin that can interact with selectin found on platelets, thereby causing small clots to form. [8] [9] Moreover, most malignant tumors overexpress and secrete heparanase, [10] an enzyme that degrade heparan sulfate [11] and endogenous heparin, [12] and thus contribute to the hypercoagulable state in cancer patients. [13] [14] [15]

Potential Mechanisms of Cancer-Related Hypercoagulability: Cancer-associated thrombosis can result from: (1) stasis, i.e., direct pressure on blood vessels by the tumor mass, poor performance status, and bed rest following surgical procedures; (2) iatrogenic, due to treatment with antineoplastic medications; and (3) secretion of heparanase from malignant tumors that results in degradation of endogenous heparin. Nasser NJ, Fox J, Agbarya A. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Feb 29;12(3):566. Potential Mechanisms of Cancer-Related Hypercoagulability.png
Potential Mechanisms of Cancer-Related Hypercoagulability: Cancer-associated thrombosis can result from: (1) stasis, i.e., direct pressure on blood vessels by the tumor mass, poor performance status, and bed rest following surgical procedures; (2) iatrogenic, due to treatment with antineoplastic medications; and (3) secretion of heparanase from malignant tumors that results in degradation of endogenous heparin. Nasser NJ, Fox J, Agbarya A. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Feb 29;12(3):566.

In patients with malignancy-associated hypercoagulable states, the blood may spontaneously form clots in the portal vessels (portal vein thrombosis), the deep veins of the limbs (deep vein thrombosis), or the superficial veins (superficial vein thrombosis) anywhere on the body. These clots present as visibly swollen blood vessels (thrombophlebitis), especially the veins, or as intermittent pain in the affected areas.

Related Research Articles

Thrombosis Vascular disease caused by the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel

Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system. When a blood vessel is injured, the body uses platelets (thrombocytes) and fibrin to form a blood clot to prevent blood loss. Even when a blood vessel is not injured, blood clots may form in the body under certain conditions. A clot, or a piece of the clot, that breaks free and begins to travel around the body is known as an embolus.

Venous thrombosis Blood clot (thrombus) that forms within a vein

Venous thrombosis is blockage of a vein caused by a thrombus. A common form of venous thrombosis is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), when a blood clot forms in the deep veins. If a thrombus breaks off (embolizes) and flows to the lungs to lodge there, it becomes a pulmonary embolism (PE), a blood clot in the lungs. The conditions of DVT only, DVT with PE, and PE only, are all captured by the term venous thromboembolism (VTE).

Disseminated intravascular coagulation Medical condition

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition in which blood clots form throughout the body, blocking small blood vessels. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, leg pain, problems speaking, or problems moving parts of the body. As clotting factors and platelets are used up, bleeding may occur. This may include blood in the urine, blood in the stool, or bleeding into the skin. Complications may include organ failure.

Antiphospholipid syndrome Medical condition

Antiphospholipid syndrome, or antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, is an autoimmune, hypercoagulable state caused by antiphospholipid antibodies. APS provokes blood clots (thrombosis) in both arteries and veins as well as pregnancy-related complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and severe preeclampsia. Although the exact etiology of APS is still not clear, genetics is believed to play a key role in the development of the disease. The diagnostic criteria require one clinical event and two positive blood test results spaced at least three months apart that detect lupus anticoagulant, anti-apolipoprotein antibodies, or anti-cardiolipin antibodies.

Deep vein thrombosis Formation of a blood clot (thrombus) in a deep vein

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a type of venous thrombosis involving the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, most commonly in the legs or pelvis. A minority of DVTs occur in the arms. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, redness, and enlarged veins in the affected area, but some DVTs have no symptoms. The most common life-threatening concern with DVT is the potential for a clot to embolize, travel as an embolus through the right side of the heart, and become lodged in a pulmonary artery that supplies blood to the lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). DVT and PE comprise the cardiovascular disease of venous thromboembolism (VTE). About two-thirds of VTE manifests as DVT only, with one-third manifesting as PE with or without DVT. The most frequent long-term DVT complication is post-thrombotic syndrome, which can cause pain, swelling, a sensation of heaviness, itching, and in severe cases, ulcers. Recurrent VTE occurs in about 30% of those in the ten years following an initial VTE.

Coronary thrombosis Medical condition

Coronary thrombosis is defined as the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel of the heart. This blood clot may then restrict blood flow within the heart, leading to heart tissue damage, or a myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack.

Thrombophilia Abnormality of blood coagulation

Thrombophilia is an abnormality of blood coagulation that increases the risk of thrombosis. Such abnormalities can be identified in 50% of people who have an episode of thrombosis that was not provoked by other causes. A significant proportion of the population has a detectable thrombophilic abnormality, but most of these develop thrombosis only in the presence of an additional risk factor.

Thrombophlebitis Medical condition

Thrombophlebitis is a phlebitis related to a thrombus. When it occurs repeatedly in different locations, it is known as thrombophlebitis migrans.

Paget–Schroetter disease Medical condition

Paget–Schroetter disease is a form of upper extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a medical condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of the arms. These DVTs typically occur in the axillary and/or subclavian veins.

Renal vein thrombosis Medical condition

Renal vein thrombosis (RVT) is the formation of a clot in the vein that drains blood from the kidneys, ultimately leading to a reduction in the drainage of one or both kidneys and the possible migration of the clot to other parts of the body. First described by German pathologist Friedrich Daniel von Recklinghausen in 1861, RVT most commonly affects two subpopulations: newly born infants with blood clotting abnormalities or dehydration and adults with nephrotic syndrome.

P-selectin Type-1 transmembrane protein

P-selectin is a type-1 transmembrane protein that in humans is encoded by the SELP gene.

Activated protein C resistance Medical condition

Activated protein C resistance (APCR) is a hypercoagulability characterized by a lack of a response to activated protein C (APC), which normally helps prevent blood from clotting excessively. This results in an increased risk of venous thrombosis, which resulting in medical conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. The most common cause of hereditary APC resistance is factor V Leiden mutation.

Post-thrombotic syndrome Medical condition

Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), also called postphlebitic syndrome and venous stress disorder is a medical condition that may occur as a long-term complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Phlegmasia cerulea dolens Medical condition

Phlegmasia cerulea dolens (PCD), not to be confused with preceding phlegmasia alba dolens, is an uncommon severe form of lower extremity deep venous thrombosis (DVT) that obstructs blood outflow from a vein. Upper extremity PCD is less common, occurring in under 10% of all cases. PCD results from extensive thrombotic occlusion of extremity veins, most commonly an "iliofemoral" DVT of the iliac vein and/or common femoral vein. It is a medical emergency requiring immediate evaluation and treatment.

Hypercoagulability in pregnancy is the propensity of pregnant women to develop thrombosis. Pregnancy itself is a factor of hypercoagulability, as a physiologically adaptive mechanism to prevent post partum bleeding. However, when combined with an additional underlying hypercoagulable states, the risk of thrombosis or embolism may become substantial.

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis Presence of a blood clot in the dural venous sinuses or cerebral veins

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), cerebral venous and sinus thrombosis or cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), is the presence of a blood clot in the dural venous sinuses, the cerebral veins, or both. Symptoms may include severe headache, visual symptoms, any of the symptoms of stroke such as weakness of the face and limbs on one side of the body, and seizures.

Septic pelvic thrombophlebitis (SPT), also known as suppurative pelvic thrombophlebitis, is a rare postpartum complication which consists of a persistent postpartum fever that is not responsive to broad-spectrum antibiotics, in which pelvic infection leads to infection of the vein wall and intimal damage leading to thrombogenesis in the ovarian veins. The thrombus is then invaded by microorganisms. Ascending infections cause 99% of postpartum SPT.

Blood clots are a relatively common occurrence in the general population and are seen in approximately 1-2% of the population by age 60. Typically blood clots develop in the deep veins of the lower extremities, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or as a blood clot in the lung, pulmonary embolism (PE). A very small number of people who develop blood clots have a more serious and often life-threatening condition, known as Thrombotic Storm (TS). TS is characterized by the development of more than one blood clot in a short period of time. These clots often occur in multiple and sometimes unusual locations in the body and are often difficult to treat. TS may be associated with an existing condition or situation that predisposes a person to blood clots such as injury, infection, or pregnancy. In many cases a risk assessment will identify interventions that will prevent the formation of blood clots.

Prothrombin G20210A is a genetic condition that increases the risk of blood clots including from deep vein thrombosis, and of pulmonary embolism. One copy of the mutation increases the risk of a blood clot from 1 in 1,000 per year to 2.5 in 1,000. Two copies increases the risk to up to 20 in 1,000 per year. Most people never develop a blood clot in their lifetimes.

Superficial vein thrombosis Medical condition

Superficial vein thrombosis (SVT) is a blood clot formed in a superficial vein, a vein near the surface of the body. Usually there is thrombophlebitis, which is an inflammatory reaction around a thrombosed vein, presenting as a painful induration with redness. SVT itself has limited significance when compared to a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which occurs deeper in the body at the deep venous system level. However, SVT can lead to serious complications, and is therefore no longer regarded as a benign condition. If the blood clot is too near the saphenofemoral junction there is a higher risk of pulmonary embolism, a potentially life-threatening complication.


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