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Curr Med Res Opin. 2011 Feb;27(2):355-63. doi: 10.1185/03007995.2010.542134. Epub 2010 Dec 20.

RETRA: evaluating the transfusion rate with darbepoetin alfa 500 µg every 3 weeks in anaemic cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

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Medical University Innsbruck, Dept. Internal Medicine, Austria.



Anaemia is a highly prevalent condition in cancer patients impacting on morbidity, mortality and quality of life. Darbepoetin alfa (DA) 500 µg administered once every 3 weeks (Q3W) has been shown to be effective in patients with chemotherapy-induced anaemia.


This non-interventional study investigated the efficacy and usage patterns of DA 500 µg Q3W in routine clinical practice.


Prospective data on adult anaemic cancer patients receiving DA 500 µg Q3W during chemotherapy was collected. Efficacy of DA treatment was measured as the red blood cell transfusion (RBCT) incidence, the change in Hb over time, hospitalisations for anaemia, and the change in Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status between baseline and study end. Usage patterns were evaluated in Hb categories at baseline and week 16, DA dosage information, and adherence to the guidelines issued by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).


A total of 309 patients were included. The median study duration was 16 weeks and the overall transfusion rate was 19%. Significantly fewer patients required transfusions when DA was initiated at Hb 9.0-10.0 g/dL (19%), as compared to later at a Hb < 9.0 g/dL (50%, p = 0.0002). Transfusion-independent patients had fewer anaemia-related hospitalisations and better ECOG scores at the end of the study. A total of 83% of patients reached a Hb ≥ 11.0 g/dL during weeks 1-16. Physicians' adherence to Hb thresholds for DA initiation as recommended by the EORTC was observed in 83% of patients.


In accordance with the recommended treatment objective for DA to minimise RBCTs, 81% of study patients remained free of RBCTs during DA 500 µg Q3W treatment and at an even higher rate if DA treatment was initiated before Hb fell below 9.0 g/dL.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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