, Volume 7, Issue 8, pp 332-335

Erythropoietin in cancer treatment: Considerations about Henke’s article

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The concurrent use of erythropoietin beta (EPO) and radiotherapy in head and neck cancer patients has been reported by Henke et al (Lancet 2003; 362:1255–60) to correct anemia and impair cancer control. Due to the potential impact in daily clinical practice of this information a systematic critical review of the mentioned article was performed. Authors selected 10 arguments to question the contents regarding methodological and statistical aspects of the trial, and added 14 comments of controversy in more basic scientific concepts mentioned in the text as published. The panel including epidemiologist and radiation oncologists with expertise in clinical research concluded with 5 additional remarks recommending caution in interpretation of these results in terms of changes in daily practice of anemic patients support and advising not to use EPO at experimental doses or after reaching physiological concentrations of hemoglobin.