Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer vol:12 issue:4 pages:253-62
GOALS: Currently, there is some debate concerning the haemoglobin level at which treatment of anaemia with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents should be initiated in cancer patients on chemotherapy. We report several analyses of data from a phase III trial of darbepoetin alfa versus placebo, comparing outcomes for patients with mild and moderate-to-severe anaemia. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Data were obtained from a phase III trial of darbepoetin alfa versus placebo in anaemic patients with lung cancer receiving chemotherapy ( n=314). Outcomes were compared for patients with baseline haemoglobin > or =10-11 g/dl and <10 g/dl. RESULTS: Darbepoetin alfa significantly reduced transfusions compared with placebo, irrespective of haemoglobin level at treatment initiation. For patients with baseline haemoglobin <10 g/dl, 31% and 59% of those receiving darbepoetin alfa and placebo, respectively, required a transfusion from week 5 to the end of the treatment phase ( P<0.038). For patients with baseline haemoglobin > or =10 g/dl, the proportions were 15% and 41%, respectively ( P<0.001). Darbepoetin alfa also improved fatigue compared with placebo in both haemoglobin categories. CONCLUSIONS: These findings show that initiating treatment at haemoglobin levels both <10 g/dl and > or =10-11 g/dl results in substantial clinical benefits, supporting the use of erythropoietic therapy also in patients with mild anaemia.