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Keywords:

  • erythropoietin;
  • imatinib;
  • chronic myeloid leukemia;
  • anemia

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Myelosuppression occurs in up to 50% of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who are treated with imatinib and ≥ Grade 3 myelosuppression is reported in approximately 10% of patients.

METHODS

The authors investigated the prognostic significance of anemia occurring during therapy with imatinib in patients with CML in chronic phase.

RESULTS

Of 338 patients treated with imatinib (150 patients after interferon failure and 188 patients with newly diagnosed CML), 230 (68%) developed anemia. In a multivariate analysis, factors associated with an increased probability of developing anemia were a starting hemoglobin level < 12 g/dL, age ≥ 60 years, female gender, higher imatinib dose, and intermediate or high Sokal risk group. Of these 230 patients, 102 patients received treatment with 40,000 U of recombinant human erythropoietin administered subcutaneously once weekly. An increase in the hemoglobin level of ≥ 2 g/dL was achieved in 69 patients (68%) and 22 patients (22%) had an increase of 1–1.9 g/dL. Patients who developed anemia had a trend toward a lower probability of complete cytogenetic remission compared with patients without anemia (68% vs. 77%; P = 0.14), as well as a trend for inferior survival. Patients with anemia and other manifestations of myelosuppression were found to have a significantly worse outcome than those with isolated anemia.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors concluded that erythropoietin is safe and effective in patients in chronic-phase CML who develop anemia with imatinib therapy. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.