Role of erythropoietin in cancer-related anaemia: a double-edged sword?

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Role of erythropoietin in cancer-related anaemia: a double-edged sword?

J Int Med Res. 2008 Jan-Feb;36(1):1-8

Authors: Guan X, Chen L

Anaemia often occurs in cancer patients and its origin is multifactorial, resulting from either bone marrow infiltration of cancer cells or cytotoxic effects produced by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Anaemia impacts significantly on quality of life and appears markedly to limit disease control. Erythropoietin stimulates erythrocyte formation and the human recombinant form is useful in treating anaemia in cancer patients. Over the past decade erythropoietin has been associated with amelioration of anaemia and reduced need for blood transfusions. Nevertheless, several pre-clinical and clinical trials, employing relatively high doses of erythropoietin, have been halted recently following increased mortality and morbidity, primarily due to thrombotic events and possible tumour growth stimulation. It is, therefore, too early to know whether erythropoietin is useful in controlling morbidity and mortality in cancer-related anaemia. The risk-benefit of erythropoietic agents should be studied in carefully controlled trials. This review discusses prevalent issues and addresses key questions concerning the use of erythropoietic agents for the treatment of cancer-related anaemia.

PMID: 18230261 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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