Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy vol:4 issue:12 pages:2221-7
Anaemia in cancer patients is multifactorial. Anaemia of chronic disease due to the effects of cancer, as well as side effects of cancer treatment, are important factors. The impact of anaemia on the quality of life and social function of cancer patients has recently become more acknowledged. The traditional treatment for chemotherapy-induced anaemia (CIA) has been the use of red blood cell transfusions, with only short-lived effects and all their inherent risks. The finding of deficiency in erythropoietin, the endogenous hormone responsible for the production and maintenance of red blood cells in these patients, was the basis for the therapeutic development of erythropoietic proteins. With the introduction of epoetins (recombinant forms of human erythropoietin) in oncology and more recently, the novel long-acting darbepoetin alpha, physicians gained new pharmacotherapeutic approaches to treat CIA. Several forms of erythropoietic proteins are available in various regions of the world. Their characteristics, clinical evidence for use, guidelines for clinical administration and their safety are described in this review.