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Support Cancer Ther. 2007 Jan 1;4(2):78-91. doi: 10.3816/SCT.2007.n.002.

Epoetin alfa treatment for patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia.

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Joan Karnell Cancer nell Cancer Center, Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia.


Anemia (hemoglobin [Hb] < 12 g/dL) is a frequent and debilitating complication in the treatment of cancer. The negative effects of anemia include impairment of organ systems, disruption of important aspects of patient quality of life, and potential interference with completion and outcomes of cancer chemotherapy. Guidelines issued by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Society of Hematology/American Society of Clinical Oncology jointly suggest that anemia in patients with cancer be managed by restoring Hb levels to approximately 12 g/dL, thereby minimizing transfusion requirements and resolving clinical symptoms associated with anemia. Recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin alfa) administered 150 U/kg 3 times weekly or 40,000 U once weekly has been shown in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials and large, open-label, nonrandomized, community-based studies to effectively and safely correct anemia in patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Several clinical trials support that treatment with epoetin alfa results in quality of life benefits that significantly correlate with Hb increases. Areas currently being investigated with epoetin alfa in the chemotherapy setting include the following: extended dosing regimens beyond the Food and Drug Administration-approved 3-times-weekly and once-weekly dosing regimens, early intervention for mild anemia, effects on treatment outcomes and survival, and optimal administration of concurrent iron supplementation.

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