Objective: The objective of this chart review was to determine the frequency of transfusion and prevalence of anemia (hemoglobin result < 100 g/L) in patients receiving chemotherapy.
Design: This study was a retrospective review of medical charts.
Setting: Patients receiving chemotherapy were included from 12 tertiary care comprehensive cancer centres across Canada.
Main outcome measure: The primary study outcome measure was red blood cell transfusion rate, controlling for patient variables.
Results: The 616 patients included had started chemotherapy in January-June 1992. For each subject, data collection finished 4 weeks after the end of the first regimen or after a maximum follow-up period of 26 weeks. Seventy-two patients (12%; 95% confidence interval 9.5% to 14.5%) were transfused for anemia (reasons other than blood loss), and 28% (95% confidence interval 24.5% to 31.5%) of the subjects were anemic during treatment. The univariate analyses of transfusion for anemia yielded significant associations with prognostic factors. In the multivariate analyses, platinum (odds ratio [OR] = 6.69) and anthracycline (OR = 3.56) chemotherapy, baseline hemoglobin (OR = 0.96) and disease stage (OR = 1.72) were statistically significant contributors.
Conclusion: In this patient cohort, red blood cell transfusion was infrequent (12%). However, patient groups at high risk of transfusion could be identified, with platinum-based chemotherapy being the most significant contributing factor. The information obtained from this multicentre study may prove helpful in developing supportive care guidelines for the management of chemotherapy-related anemia requiring transfusion.