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Ann Oncol. 1993 Feb;4(2):161-7.

Erythropoietin treatment for chronic anemia of selected hematological malignancies and solid tumors.

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Department of Medicine and Oncology, Wilhelminenspital, Vienna, Austria.



Neoplasias, especially in their more advanced stages, are often associated with chronic anemia of malignancy which impairs the patient's physical ability and quality of life.


Forty-two patients with chronic anemia associated with hematological malignancies (18 multiple myelomas, 10 myelodysplastic syndromes) or solid tumors (9 breast cancers, 5 colon cancers) were treated with 150-300 units/kg rHuEPO for a median time period of 16 weeks. Response was defined as an increase of the initial hemoglobin level by at least 2 g/dl.


The response rates for solid tumors were comparable (44.4% and 40% for breast cancer and colon cancer, respectively), whilst the response in patients with hematological malignancies depended strongly on the disease entity (77.8% for multiple myeloma, 10% for myelodysplastic syndrome). Pretreatment serum levels of endogenous erythropoietin (EPO) were significantly higher in non-responding patients than in responders. During rHuEPO therapy, EPO levels in non-responders increased even further, while they remained basically unchanged in responding patients. In responders, the WHO performance status before the start of rHuEPO therapy was more favorable and showed impressive improvement during the course of treatment. The median survival time of responders was 28.0 months as compared to only 9.2 months for non-responders. Clinical symptoms of anemia subsided or at least considerably improved under successful rHuEPO therapy. With the exception of occasional flu-like symptoms, no undesirable effects of rHuEPO treatment were observed.


In conclusion, rHuEPO treatment corrected anemia of malignancy both in patients with hematologic disease and in those with solid tumors, but responsiveness varied considerably amongst the different disease entities.

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