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Clinical Benefits of Epoetin Alfa (Eprex®) 10,000 Units Subcutaneously Thrice Weekly in Thai Cancer Patients with Anemia Receiving Chemotherapy


Narin Voravud, MD*,
Virote Sriuranpong, MD*

* Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University


have jointly launched the clinical practice guideline of epoetin usage in cancer related anemia patients. The recommended starting dose is 150-300 unit/kg thrice weekly. The clinical outcome of epoetin alfa 10,000 units subcutaneously thrice weekly regimen has not been evaluated in Thai cancer patients with anemia yet.
Objectives: To determine the clinical benefits and safety of epoetin alfa (Eprex®) 10,000 units subcutaneously thrice weekly in anemic cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
Patients: The present study was an open label, non-randomized study. Adult patients were eligible for inclusion aged > 18 years with a confirmed diagnosis of non-myeloid malignancy in the upper area of the body and scheduled to receive chemotherapy regardless of the concurrent radiotherapy. All patients had hemoglobin (Hb) level less than 11 g/dL, serum ferritin more than 100 ng/dL and had a life expectancy of at least 6 months.
Material and Method: All patients were initially treated with Epoetin alfa 10,000 units subcutaneously thrice weekly. The dose was up to 20,000 units after 4 weeks of therapy, if Hb level did not increase by > 1.0 g/dL. Treatment time was 16 weeks. Target Hb was 12 g/dL Blood transfusion and iron supplement was permitted.
Efficacy Assessments: The primary efficacy end point was the proportion of responders (patients with an increase in Hb > 1 g/dL). Secondary efficacy evaluation was change in Quality of life (QOL) scores by the Linear Analog Scale Assessment (LASA) and Quality of life-Chula (QOL-CU) scale. Statistical Analysis was t-tests, P< 0.05 was considered significant.
Results: Forty patients (21 men and 19 women) were enrolled. Twenty five patients (62.5%) had stage of disease in grade III or IV. The mean Hb levels at baseline were 8.46 + 1.28 g/dL. Eight patients (20%) refused to complete the course during the study. Reasons for refusing to participate included lack of time, changing the resident area or disease progression. Twenty three of 32 patients (71.8%) were responders. These patients completed the study course and showed good response. Their mean Hb levels increased gradually and reach approximately 11g/dl by week 4 and were maintained through week 16. The significant difference in mean Hb level of baseline was initially found at week 4 of the study (10.26 + 1.95 g/dl; p = 0.001 vs baseline). The LASA score increased in all of three items including level of energy, ability to do daily activities, and overall QOL but not statistical significance. However, the improvement of quality of life of cancer patients, evaluated by QOL-CU, was significantly apparent after treatment, (p < 0.05). The most common adverse events were grade I flu like symptoms (17.5%) and recovered the next day.
Conclusion: Epoetin alfa (Eprex®) 10,000 units thrice weekly significantly increased the hemoglobin levels, achieving the target hemoglobin and sustained the level in cancer patients with anemia receiving chemotherapy. Clinical benefits on functional status and quality of life were also improved. The treatment was well tolerated.

Keyword : Epoetin, Cancer, Anemia

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