The current study was performed to prospectively evaluate the effectiveness, clinical outcomes, and safety of once-weekly (QW) recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO [epoetin-α]) in anemic cancer patients with nonmyeloid malignancies who were receiving radiation therapy (RT) concomitantly or sequentially with chemotherapy (CT).
A total of 777 anemic patients (hemoglobin [Hb] ≤ 11 g/dL) were enrolled in this multicenter, open-label, nonrandomized, 16-week study. Patients initially received epoetin-α at a dose of 40,000 units (U) subcutaneously QW, escalating to a dose of 60,000 U QW if the Hb increased to ≤ 1 g/dL after 4 weeks. Endpoints were changes in hematologic and quality of life (QOL) parameters.
Among the 442 patients evaluable for hematologic response, the mean increase in Hb from baseline to the time of final evaluation was 1.9 ± 1.8 g/dL (P < 0.05). An increase in Hb of ≥ 2 g/dL, in the absence of blood transfusions, occurred in 68.3% of patients (278 of 407 patients) who were on the study for ≥ 30 days. The overall response rate (Hb increase ≥ 2 g/dL or Hb ≥ 12 g/dL in the absence of blood transfusions) was 74.0% (301 of 407 patients). In 359 patients who were evaluable for QOL assessment, epoetin-α therapy was found to significantly (P < 0.05) improve mean Linear Analog Scale Assessment (LASA) scores for energy level, ability to perform daily activities, and overall QOL from baseline to the time of final evaluation. QW epoetin-α therapy was found to be well tolerated.
Treatment with QW epoetin-α was found to increase Hb levels, decrease transfusion requirements, and improve functional status and QOL in anemic patients with nonmyeloid malignancies who were receiving RT concomitantly or sequentially with CT. Clinical benefits and the safety profile of QW epoetin-α in this setting appear to be similar to those observed in anemic cancer patients receiving CT. Cancer 2003;98:1072–9. © 2003 American Cancer Society.