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Gynecol Oncol. 1997 Jun;65(3):461-6.

Erythropoietin treatment under polychemotherapy in patients with gynecologic malignancies: a prospective, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled multicenter study.

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  • 1Department of Gynecologic Endocrinology, University of Vienna, Austria.


In order to examine the influence of erythropoietin (rHuEPO) on serum hemoglobin levels, transfusion requirements, and quality of life in patients with gynecologic malignancies under polychemotherapy and chronic tumor anemia (hemoglobin <11 g/dl), we performed a prospective, randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial. Between October 1992 and October 1993, 35 patients from 5 gynecologic departments were entered into this trial. Inclusion criteria were hemoglobin level <11 g/dl, ferritin level >29 ng/ml, stool negative for occult blood, and life expectancy for more than 3 months. Patients received either 150 U/kg body wt rHuEPO (Erypo by Cilag-Janssen) sc three times a week for 12 weeks (n = 23) or a placebo (n = 12). If the hemoglobin levels of the 4th, 8th, or 12th week were >2 g/dl above the baseline value and/or >12 g/dl, the patient was classified as a responder. Patients who required blood transfusions (hemoglobin <8 g/dl, erythrocytes <3 x 10(6)/ml, or clinical symptoms of anemia) were classified as nonresponders. A nonvalidated quality of life questionnaire was completed by the patient at the beginning of the treatment and then every fourth week before receiving chemotherapy. In the rHuEPO group 56.6% of the patients responded to the treatment (chi2 = 10.79, P = 0.001) and only 5 patients (21.7%) required blood transfusions, whereas 8 of 12 patients in the placebo group (66.6%) had to be transfused (chi2 = 6.81, P = 0.009). Quality of life did not differ significantly between the rHuEPO group and the placebo group of patients. Within the rHuEPO group those patients that responded showed a significant increase in physical activity after response in comparison to the preresponsive phase (P = 0.02, paired t test). We therefore concluded that rHuEPO significantly increases serum hemoglobin levels and decreases transfusions requirements while maintaining quality of life in patients with gynecological malignancies who are undergoing polychemotherapy.

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