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Ann Oncol. 1998 Mar;9(3):255-60.

Recombinant human erythropoietin in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced anemia and prevention of transfusion requirement associated with solid tumors: a randomized, controlled study.

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  • 1Center for Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospital, Essen, Germany.



Anemia is a common side effect of anticancer chemotherapy. Blood transfusion, previously the only available treatment for chemotherapy-induced anemia, may result in some clinical or subclinical adverse effects in the recipients. Recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) provides a new treatment modality for chemotherapy-induced anemia.


To evaluate the effect of rhEPO on the need for blood transfusions and on hemoglobin (Hb) concentrations, 227 patients with solid tumors and chemotherapy-induced anemia were enrolled in a randomized, controlled, clinical trial. Of 189 patients evaluable for efficacy, 101 received 5000 IU rhEPO daily s.c., while 88 patients received no treatment during the 12-week controlled phase of the study.


The results demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in the need for blood transfusions (28% vs. 42%, P = 0.028) and in the mean volume of packed red blood cells transfused (152 ml vs. 190 ml, P = 0.044) in patients treated with rhEPO compared to untreated controls. This effect was even more pronounced in patients receiving platinum-based chemotherapy (26% vs. 45%, P = 0.038). During the controlled treatment phase, the median Hb values increased in the rhEPO patients while remaining unchanged in the control group. The response was seen in all tumor types.


RhEPO administration at a dose of 5000 IU daily s.c. increases hemoglobin levels and reduces transfusion requirements in chemotherapy-induced anemia, especially during platinum-based chemotherapy.

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