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Semin Oncol. 1994 Apr;21(2 Suppl 3):21-8.

Recombinant human erythropoietin in the treatment of cancer and chemotherapy-induced anemia: results of double-blind and open-label follow-up studies.

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  • 1Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 19146.


Anemia associated with advanced cancer is common. Contributing factors include the anemia of chronic disease, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow invasion with tumor. Based on the observation that endogenous erythropoietin (EPO) levels in anemic patients with cancer are inadequate for the degree of anemia, three randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) treatment in anemic patients with cancer were performed in patients (1) not receiving concomitant chemotherapy (NO CTX), (2) receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy that did not include cisplatin (CTX-NO PLAT), and (3) receiving myelosuppressive cisplatin-containing chemotherapy (CTX-PLAT). In the NO CTX trial, patients were treated with rHuEPO 100 U/kg or placebo subcutaneously (SQ) three times per week for up to 8 weeks. In the CTX trials, patients were treated with rHuEPO 150 U/kg or placebo SQ three times per week for 12 weeks. Four hundred thirteen patients were enrolled (124, NO CTX; 157, CTX-NO PLAT; and 132, CTX-PLAT). In all three trials, patients receiving rHuEPO had a significantly (P < .004) greater increase in hematocrit (HCT) than placebo-treated patients. In the two CTX trials combined, rHuEPO-treated patients also had a significantly (P < or = .009) lower transfusion requirement than placebo-treated patients after the first month of therapy. Quality of life improved significantly (P < .05) in responding (> or = 6%-point HCT increase without transfusion) rHuEPO-treated patients compared with placebo-treated patients. Overall, no adverse events occurred more frequently in rHuEPO-treated patients compared with placebo-treated patients. Following completion of the double-blind phase, patients received rHuEPO on an open-label basis as needed for correction of anemia with the dose titrated to a maximum of 900 U/kg/wk. During total rHuEPO exposure (either started at the beginning of double-blind therapy for patients initially randomized to rHuEPO or at the beginning of open-label therapy for patients initially randomized to placebo; 363 treated/347 evaluable for efficacy), 40.0%, 56.1%, and 58.3% of the NO-CTX, CTX-NO PLAT, and CTX-PLAT patients, respectively, responded to rHuEPO therapy with an increase of HCT > or = 6% unrelated to transfusion.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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