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Cancer J Sci Am. 1995 Nov-Dec;1(4):252-60.

Recombinant human erythropoietin therapy for anemic cancer patients receiving cisplatin chemotherapy.

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  • 1Tuttleman Center, Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19146, USA.



To assess whether the administration of recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) would increase the hematocrit, reduce the requirement for transfusion, and improve the quality of life in anemic cancer patients receiving myelosuppressive, cisplatin-based chemotherapy.


One hundred thirty-two anemic cancer patients receiving cyclic, cisplatin-containing, myelosuppressive chemotherapy were evaluated. Patients received either r-HuEPO (150 U/kg) or placebo, subcutaneously, three times a week for 3 months. Responses were assessed by measuring changes in hemoglobin/hematocrit, transfusion requirement, and quality of life.


The mean hematocrit increased by 6.0 percentage points in the r-HuEPO group versus 1.3 in the placebo group. A decrease in transfusion requirement did not reach significance over all 3 months, but there was a significant reduction in the percentage of patients transfused in the second and third months (27% r-HuEPO vs. 56% placebo) and a trend toward reduction in the mean total number of units transfused (1.20 units r-HuEPO vs. 2.02 units placebo), suggesting a lag of 1 month before r-HuEPO can affect the transfusion requirement. Pretreatment serum erythropoietin levels were lower in responders than in nonresponders (73.5 IU/L and 86.3 IU/L means, respectively). However, the magnitude of this difference was not helpful in defining which patients were likely to respond. There was a significant improvement in overall quality of life between the two treatment arms in favor of the r-HuEPO-treated group. There were no significant adverse effects associated with r-HuEPO.


r-HuEPO is safe and can cause a significant improvement in the hematocrit and quality of life of anemic cancer patients receiving myelosuppressive, cisplatin-based chemotherapy. After 1 month of r-HuEPO, there is also a reduction in transfusion requirement.

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