Once-weekly dose of epoetinum alfa in cancer patients with anemia receiving radiotherapy
- Cite this article as:
- Samper Ots, P.M., Pérez, A.R., Carrizosa, C.L. et al. Clin Transl Oncol (2005) 7: 486. doi:10.1007/BF02717001
Anaemia is present in 30%–90% of all patients with cancer, and its origin is multifactorial. Human recombinant erythropoietin has been shown to be useful in treating anemia in patients with cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment of anaemia with epoetin alfa (EPO) given as a single weekly dose, and its repercussions on quality of life (QoL).
Materials and methods
From January to October 2002, a total of 139 patients referred to our service for radiotherapy (RT) had anemia and received treatment with EPO as a single weekly dose of 40,000 IU subcutaneously, with oral iron supplement. If haemoglobin (Hb) values after 1 month of treatment did not increase by≥1 g/dl, the dose was increased to 60,000 IU/week. Treatment with EPO ended when Hb values reached ≥14 g/dl or one month after the end of RT regardless of Hb values. QoL was evaluated with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Anaemia subscale (FACT-An) and the Cancer Linear Analogue Scale (CLAS).
Mean Hb at the start of treatment with EPO was 11.49±1.08 g/dl, and the mean value at the end of treatment was 14.52±1.41 g/dl (p<0.001). The mean increase in Hb was 2.97±2.91 weeks. In 11 patients (7.9%) the dose was increased after 4 weeks. In 84 patients (60.4%) EPO treatment was implemented before the commencing of RT. Mean Hb values in this group was 11.34±1.11 g/dl at the start of EPO treatment, 12.69±1.56 g/dl at the start of RT, 13.96±1.54 g/dl at the end of RT and 14.68±1.3 g/dl at the end of EPO treatment (p<0.001). In 55 patients (39.6%) anaemia developed during RT and, therefore, EPO treatment was implemented after commencing of RT. In this group the mean Hb values were 12.29±1.6 g/dl at the start of RT, 11.72±1.01 g/dl at the start of EPO treatment, 13.97±1.53 g/dl at the end of RT and 14.28±1.54 g/dl at the end of EPO treatment (p<0.001). Hemoglobin levels at the start of EPO were lower in patients who commenced EPO before RT (p<0.05). In 60 patients who received combined RT and chemotherapy, mean Hb values were 11.42±1.16 g/dl at the start of EPO and 13.98±1.55 g/dl at the end of EPO (p<0.005). In 75 patients who had received RT alone, the mean Hb values was 11.53±1.05 g/dl at the start of EPO and 14.98±1.17 g/dl at the end of treatment (p<0.001). Patients treated with RT alone had higher Hb levels at the end of RT and at the end of EPO treatment than did patients who had received combined treatment (p<0.005). The duration of EPO treatment was shorter in the group treated with RT alone than in the combined treated group (6.41±2.99 weeks versus 7.96±2.67 weeks; p<0.005). No significant differences were observed in FACT-An and CLAS scores at the beginning and the end of the study.
Treatment with epoetin alfa as a single weekly dose significantly increased Hb levels in patients with cancer who were undergoing radiotherapy. The response was greater in patients treated with radiotherapy alone than in those receiving combined therapy. The duration of EPO treatment was shorter in the group treated with radiotherapy alone than in the combined treatment group.