Epoetin alpha prevents anaemia and reduces transfusion requirements in patients undergoing primarily platinum-based chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer
journal contributionposted on 24.10.2012, 09:14 by N. Thatcher, E. S. De Campos, D. R. Bell, W. P. Steward, G. Varghese, R. Morant, J. F. Vansteenkiste, R. Rosso, S. B. Ewers, E. Sundal, E. Schatzmann, H. Stocker
Anaemia commonly occurs in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, often necessitating blood transfusion. This multicentre study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of epoetin α in preventing the decline in haemoglobin (Hb) level, and to determine whether the transfusion requirement could be reduced, in patients receiving 4–6 cycles of primarily platinum-based combination cyclic chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer (SCLC). A total of 130 non-anaemic SCLC patients were randomized to receive no additional treatment (n = 44), epoetin α 150 IU kg–1 subcutaneously (s.c.) three times a week (n = 42) or 300 IU kg–1 s.c. three times a week (n = 44). Reductions in epoetin α dosage were made during the study if Hb level increased to >15 g dl–1. The mean weekly dosage was 335 and 612 IU kg–1, respectively, in the two active treatment groups. Significantly fewer (P < 0.05) epoetin α-treated patients experienced anaemia (Hb < 10 g dl–1) during the course of chemotherapy (300 IU kg–1, 39%; 150 IU kg–1, 48%; untreated, 66%). This was reflected in the significantly lower number of treated patients transfused [300 IU kg–1, 20% (P < 0.001); 150 IU kg–1, 45% (P < 0.05); untreated, 59%]. Epoetin α was well-tolerated, and there was no evidence of sustained, clinically significant, hypertension. In summary, epoetin α is effective and well-tolerated in maintaining Hb level and reducing transfusion requirement in patients undergoing cyclic chemotherapy for SCLC.