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      Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in oncology: a study-level meta-analysis of survival and other safety outcomes

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          BACKGROUND: Cancer patients often develop the potentially debilitating condition of anaemia. Numerous controlled studies indicate that erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) can raise haemoglobin levels and reduce transfusion requirements in anaemic cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. To evaluate recent safety concerns regarding ESAs, we carried out a meta-analysis of controlled ESA oncology trials to examine whether ESA use affects survival, disease progression and risk of venous-thromboembolic events.

          METHODS: This meta-analysis included studies from the 2006 Cochrane meta-analysis, studies published/updated since the 2006 Cochrane report, and unpublished trial data from Amgen and Centocor Ortho Biotech. The 60 studies analysed (15 323 patients) were conducted in the settings of chemotherapy/radiochemotherapy, radiotherapy only treatment or anaemia of cancer. Data were summarised using odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

          RESULTS: Results indicated that ESA use did not significantly affect mortality (60 studies: OR=1.06; 95% CI: 0.97–1.15) or disease progression (26 studies: OR=1.01; 95% CI: 0.90–1.14), but increased the risk for venous-thromoboembolic events (44 studies: OR=1.48; 95% CI: 1.28–1.72).

          CONCLUSION: Though this meta-analysis showed no significant effect of ESAs on survival or disease progression, prospectively designed, future randomised clinical trials will further examine the safety and efficacy of ESAs when used according to the revised labelling information.

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          Most cited references 104

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          Correction of anemia with epoetin alfa in chronic kidney disease.

           Lynda Szczech,  ,  Shelly Sapp (2006)
          Anemia, a common complication of chronic kidney disease, usually develops as a consequence of erythropoietin deficiency. Recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin alfa) is indicated for the correction of anemia associated with this condition. However, the optimal level of hemoglobin correction is not defined. In this open-label trial, we studied 1432 patients with chronic kidney disease, 715 of whom were randomly assigned to receive a dose of epoetin alfa targeted to achieve a hemoglobin level of 13.5 g per deciliter and 717 of whom were assigned to receive a dose targeted to achieve a level of 11.3 g per deciliter. The median study duration was 16 months. The primary end point was a composite of death, myocardial infarction, hospitalization for congestive heart failure (without renal replacement therapy), and stroke. A total of 222 composite events occurred: 125 events in the high-hemoglobin group, as compared with 97 events in the low-hemoglobin group (hazard ratio, 1.34; 95% confidence interval, 1.03 to 1.74; P=0.03). There were 65 deaths (29.3%), 101 hospitalizations for congestive heart failure (45.5%), 25 myocardial infarctions (11.3%), and 23 strokes (10.4%). Seven patients (3.2%) were hospitalized for congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction combined, and one patient (0.5%) died after having a stroke. Improvements in the quality of life were similar in the two groups. More patients in the high-hemoglobin group had at least one serious adverse event. The use of a target hemoglobin level of 13.5 g per deciliter (as compared with 11.3 g per deciliter) was associated with increased risk and no incremental improvement in the quality of life. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00211120 [ClinicalTrials.gov].). Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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            Erythropoietin to treat head and neck cancer patients with anaemia undergoing radiotherapy: randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

            Anaemia is associated with poor cancer control, particularly in patients undergoing radiotherapy. We investigated whether anaemia correction with epoetin beta could improve outcome of curative radiotherapy among patients with head and neck cancer. We did a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial in 351 patients (haemoglobin <120 g/L in women or <130 g/L in men) with carcinoma of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, or larynx. Patients received curative radiotherapy at 60 Gy for completely (R0) and histologically incomplete (R1) resected disease, or 70 Gy for macroscopically incompletely resected (R2) advanced disease (T3, T4, or nodal involvement) or for primary definitive treatment. All patients were assigned to subcutaneous placebo (n=171) or epoetin beta 300 IU/kg (n=180) three times weekly, from 10-14 days before and continuing throughout radiotherapy. The primary endpoint was locoregional progression-free survival. We assessed also time to locoregional progression and survival. Analysis was by intention to treat. 148 (82%) patients given epoetin beta achieved haemoglobin concentrations higher than 140 g/L (women) or 150 g/L (men) compared with 26 (15%) given placebo. However, locoregional progression-free survival was poorer with epoetin beta than with placebo (adjusted relative risk 1.62 [95% CI 1.22-2.14]; p=0.0008). For locoregional progression the relative risk was 1.69 (1.16-2.47, p=0.007) and for survival was 1.39 (1.05-1.84, p=0.02). Epoetin beta corrects anaemia but does not improve cancer control or survival. Disease control might even be impaired. Patients receiving curative cancer treatment and given erythropoietin should be studied in carefully controlled trials.
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              Chemotherapy-induced anemia in adults: incidence and treatment.

               L Itri,  J Groopman (1999)
              Anemia is a common complication of myelosuppressive chemotherapy that results in a decreased functional capacity and quality of life (QOL) for cancer patients. Severe anemia is treated with red blood cell transfusions, but mild-to-moderate anemia in patients receiving chemotherapy has traditionally been managed conservatively on the basis of the perception that it was clinically unimportant. This practice has been reflected in the relative inattention to standardized and complete reporting of all degrees of chemotherapy-induced anemia. We undertook a comprehensive review of published chemotherapy trials of the most common single agents and combination chemotherapy regimens, including the new generation of chemotherapeutic agents, used in the treatment of the major nonmyeloid malignancies in adults to characterize and to document the incidence and severity of chemotherapy-induced anemia. Despite identified limitations in the grading and reporting of treatment-related anemia, the results confirm a relatively high incidence of mild-to-moderate anemia. Recent advances in assessing the relationships of anemia, fatigue, and QOL in cancer patients are providing new insights into these closely related factors. Clinical data are emerging that suggest that mild-to-moderate chemotherapy-induced anemia results in a perceptible reduction in a patient's energy level and QOL. Future research may lead to new classifications of chemotherapy-induced anemia that can guide therapeutic interventions on the basis of outcomes and hemoglobin levels. Perceptions by oncologists and patients that lesser degrees of anemia must be endured without treatment may be overcome as greater emphasis is placed on the QOL of the oncology patient and as research provides further insights into the relationships between hemoglobin levels, patient well-being, and symptoms.

                Author and article information

                Br J Cancer
                British Journal of Cancer
                Nature Publishing Group
                05 January 2010
                19 January 2010
                19 January 2010
                : 102
                : 2
                : 301-315
                [1 ]Department of Medicine-Hematology and Oncology, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, 100 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 550, Los Angeles, CA 90095-6996 USA
                [2 ]Department of Medical Oncology, Duke University Medical Center Box 3198, 25178 Morris Building, Durham, NC 27710 USA
                [3 ]Respiratory Oncology Unit (Pulmonology), University Hospital Gasthuisberg Herestraat 49, Leuven B-3000, Belgium
                [4 ]Department of Medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital 230 W Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA 19106 USA
                [5 ]Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development LLC 1125 Trenton-Harbourton Road, PO Box 200, M/S K304, Titusville, New Jersey 08560 USA
                [6 ]Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA 91320 USA
                [7 ]First Department of Medicine, Center for Oncology and Haematology, Wilhelminenspital Montleartstrasse 37, Vienna A-1171, Austria
                Author notes
                [* ]Author for correspondence: jglaspy@ 123456mednet.ucla.edu
                Copyright 2010, Cancer Research UK
                Clinical Studies

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

                meta-analysis, oncology, anaemia, erythropoiesis-stimulating agent


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