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Hematol Oncol. 2003 Dec;21(4):169-80.

Epoetin alfa corrects anemia and improves quality of life in patients with hematologic malignancies receiving non-platinum chemotherapy.

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John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.


Anemia, a commonly occurring morbidity in patients with cancer, often leads to diminished quality of life (QOL). Numerous clinical trials have shown that epoetin alfa treatment improves hematologic and QOL variables in cancer patients. The clinical trial analysis reported here was performed to assess response to epoetin alfa in patients with hematologic malignancies. Cancer patients with anemia undergoing non-platinum-based chemotherapy who were enrolled in a multinational, randomized (2:1), double-blind, placebo-controlled trial were prospectively stratified by tumor type (hematologic, solid). Efficacy endpoints included proportion of patients transfused after day 28; change in hemoglobin (Hb) level from baseline to last assessment; proportion of treatment responders (increase in Hb > or =2 g/dl unrelated to transfusion) and correctors (patients whose Hb levels reached > or =12 g/dl during the study); and QOL. The protocol was amended before unblinding to prospectively collect and assess survival data 12 months after the last patient completed the study, and survival for the full study cohort was estimated using Kaplan-Meier techniques. Efficacy analyses of hematologic and QOL variables, as well as Kaplan-Meier estimates of survival, were performed post hoc for the hematologic tumor stratum. Among patients with hematologic malignancies, the mean increase in Hb levels was greater with epoetin alfa than with placebo treatment (2.2 vs. 0.3 g/dl). Transfusion requirements were lower in patients who received epoetin alfa versus placebo (25.2 vs. 43.1%), and the proportion of responders and correctors was higher with epoetin alfa than with placebo (75.2 vs. 16.7% and 72.6 vs. 14.8%, respectively). Patients who received epoetin alfa had improved QOL while patients who received placebo had decreased QOL. These results are similar to those seen in the full study cohort, where differences between epoetin alfa and placebo were significant (P<0.05) for all five primary cancer- and anemia-specific QOL domains evaluated. Although the study was not powered for survival, Kaplan-Meier estimates showed a trend in overall survival favoring epoetin alfa in both the full study cohort and the hematologic subgroup. Epoetin alfa treatment was well tolerated. Epoetin alfa therapy increased Hb levels, reduced transfusion requirements, and improved QOL in patients with anemia undergoing non-platinum chemotherapy for hematologic malignancies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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