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Cancer. 1999 Oct 1;86(7):1362-7.

Erythropoietin reduces anemia and transfusions: A randomized trial with or without erythropoietin during chemotherapy.

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  • 1Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, St. Louis, Missouri 63110-0250, USA.



Anemia has been reported to develop during preoperative chemotherapy with paclitaxel and carboplatin. The use of recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) has been shown to reduce anemia and subsequent packed red blood cell transfusions. The current study is a report of a Phase III, prospective, randomized trial with or without EPO that confirms the original observations of less anemia and fewer transfusions in those patients randomized to receive EPO concurrently with paclitaxel and carboplatin.


Thirty patients with advanced head and neck or lung carcinoma were treated with 2 courses of paclitaxel, 230 mg/m(2), and carboplatin, 7.5 mg/mL/minute, repeated every 21 days. The treatment group was comprised of 15 patients randomized to receive concurrent EPO, 150 U/kg, 3 times per week; in patients deemed nonresponsive the dose was increased to 300 U/kg and 450 U/kg in subsequent courses. The control group was comprised of 15 patients randomized not to receive EPO.


Twenty-seven patients were evaluable. After 2 courses of chemotherapy the mean hemoglobin decrease was 1.2 g/dL in the EPO group versus 2.8 g/dL in the control group (P = 0.037). There was a highly significant decrease in hemoglobin over time in patients who did not receive EPO (P = 0.008). After 4 courses of chemotherapy, fewer patients were transfused in the EPO arm: 2 of 13 (15%) in the EPO treatment group versus 5 of 14 (36%) in the control group.


There was significantly less anemia and transfusions were reduced by 50% in patients randomized to receive EPO during chemotherapy with paclitaxel and carboplatin.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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