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Eur J Cancer. 2004 Oct;40(15):2201-16.

EORTC guidelines for the use of erythropoietic proteins in anaemic patients with cancer.

Author information

1
Universitaetsklinikum Tuebingen, Medizinische Klinik Abteilung II, Otfried-Mueller St 10, D-72076 Tuebingen, Germany. carsten.bokemeyer@med.uni-tuebingen.de

Abstract

Anaemia is frequently diagnosed in patients with cancer, yet it is difficult to identify a single cause due to its multifactorial aetiology. We conducted a systematic literature review (1996-2003) to produce evidence-based guidelines on the use of erythropoietic proteins in anaemic patients with cancer (see ). Level I evidence exists for a positive impact of erythropoietic proteins on haemoglobin (Hb) levels when administered to patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia or anaemia of chronic disease, when used to prevent cancer anaemia, in patients undergoing cancer surgery and following allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. The Hb level at which erythropoietic protein therapy should be initiated is difficult to determine as it varied between studies; a large number of Level I studies in patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia or anaemia of chronic disease enrolled patients with a Hb concentration </=105 g/L, but none compared the effect of different baseline Hb levels on the response to treatment. Similarly, several studies defined the target Hb concentration as 120-130 g/L following treatment with erythropoietic proteins, but none specifically addressed the correlation between target Hb level and clinical benefit in a randomised fashion. Level I evidence shows that red blood cell (RBC) transfusion requirements are significantly reduced with erythropoietic protein therapy in patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia or when used to prevent cancer anaemia (approximately 20% reduction compared with controls). We found indirect Level I and III evidence that patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia or anaemia of chronic disease initially classified as non-responders to standard doses proceed to respond to treatment following a dose increase (absolute increases in response rate ranged from 8% to 18%). However, none of these studies examined the effect on response rates of a longer treatment period at the lower dose, or performed a randomised comparison of a dose increase versus an unchanged dose. There is Level I evidence to show that quality-of-life (QOL) is significantly improved in patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia and in those with anaemia of chronic disease, particularly in patients achieving a Hb response to erythropoietic protein therapy. There are insufficient data to determine the effect on survival following treatment with erythropoietic proteins in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. There is Level I evidence that dosing of erythropoietic proteins less frequently than three times per week (TIW) is efficacious when used to treat chemotherapy-induced anaemia or prevent cancer anaemia. There is Level III evidence that initial doses of erythropoietic proteins considered to be higher than current standard practice produce higher haematological responses in patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia or anaemia of chronic disease. Level I evidence demonstrates that several baseline patient parameters (e.g., low endogenous erythropoietin [EPO] concentration, age <60 years, Hb concentration >/=90 g/L) impact upon the response to erythropoietic proteins when used to treat chemotherapy-induced anaemia or prevent cancer anaemia. Evidence indicates that endogenous EPO concentration impacts on response in patients with lymphoproliferative malignancies, but is not a valid parameter in patients with solid tumours. There is Level I evidence that fixed doses of erythropoietic proteins can be used at the start of therapy to treat patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia, but maintenance doses should be titrated individually. There is no evidence that pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) occurs following treatment with erythropoietic proteins in patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia or when used prophylactically in patients with cancer. There is Level I evidence that the risk of thromboembolic events and hypertension are slightly elevated in patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia receiving erythropoietic proteins. Level I evidence supports the effectiveness of erythropoietic proteins to prevenroteins to prevent anaemia in non-anaemic cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy or in those undergoing cancer surgery. However, these are non-licensed indications and we do not currently recommend the prophylactic use of erythropoietic proteins to prevent anaemia in patients who have normal Hb values at the start of treatment. Additional trials are warranted, especially on the issues of iron replacement and cost-effectiveness of erythropoietic protein therapy, as well as on tumour response/progression and survival.

PMID:
15454245
DOI:
10.1016/j.ejca.2004.07.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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