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Pediatrics. 1999 Feb;103(2):E16.

Recombinant human erythropoietin treatment for chemotherapy-related anemia in children.

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Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hacettepe University, Institute of Oncology, Ankara, Turkey.



The efficacy and safety of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) treatment in chemotherapy-induced anemia in children were investigated. rHuEPO is used to treat chemotherapy-induced anemia. Several studies recommend 150 to 300 IU/kg rHuEPO for 2 to 8 months. There are only a few controlled trials in children and no precise data about the optimal dose and duration of rHuEPO treatment is available.


Thirty-four patients receiving chemotherapy for treatment of their solid tumors between October 1996 and June 1997 were included in this study. Patients were randomly selected for each group. The male/female ratio was 20/14, and the median age was 5 years (range, 1-16 years). They had normal hemoglobin levels at the time of diagnosis. When hemoglobin levels decreased to levels lower than 10 g/dL, rHuEPO (150 IU/kg/d, 3 times a week, subcutaneously) was given to 17 patients for 2 months. Their renal, liver, and pulmonary functions were normal. None of the patients had hematologic disease. We did not use any other drugs such as iron or granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. There were 17 patients in the control group. Fifteen patients got chemotherapy regimens including cisplatin (CDDP), but 19 were treated with regimens without CDDP. At the end of rHuEPO treatment, all patients were examined in terms of transfusion requirements and rate of change in hemoglobin levels.


One patient in the study group needed a blood transfusion, whereas 8 patients needed a transfusion in the control group. Patients in the study group had less transfusion requirements compared with the control group. The mean hemoglobin levels before and after the study were 8.48 +/- 0.98 g/dL and 8.41 +/- 1.65 g/dL in the control group and 8.50 +/- 0.85 g/dL and 10.21 +/- 2.14 g/dL in the rHuEPO group, respectively. Optimal hemoglobin increments began in 4 weeks and continued during treatment. CDDP-receiving and CDDP-nonreceiving groups did not have any difference in pretreatment serum erythropoietin levels. rHuEPO treatment was more effective in patients treated with non-CDDP regimens. Mean hemoglobin level increased from 8.68 +/- 0.73 g/dL to 10.26 +/- 1.84 g/dL in 9 patients treated with non-CDDP chemotherapy regimens in the erythropoietin group, although it increased from 8.28 +/- 0.97 g/dL to 10.15 +/- 2.5 g/dL in 8 patients treated with CDDP-containing regimens in the erythropoietin group. rHuEPO caused high blood pressure in only 1 patient that resolved spontaneously after cessation of erythropoietin treatment for a week.


rHuEPO treatment (150 IU/kg/d 3 times a week) is effective and safe in children with chemotherapy-induced anemia. It decreases blood transfusion requirements in solid tumor patients. Our results show that the response to rHuEPO in CDDP-induced anemia is less than the response in non-CDDP receiving patients. Higher doses may be necessary in patients using CDDP.

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