Clinical benefits of epoetin alfa therapy in patients with lung cancer

Clin Lung Cancer. 2002 Feb;3(3):180-90. doi: 10.3816/clc.2002.n.001.


A retrospective subset analysis of anemic lung cancer patients who participated in three large, multicenter, community-based studies of 3-times-weekly (TIW) or once-weekly (QW) recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO, epoetin alfa) as an adjunct to chemotherapy was conducted. Patients were treated with epoetin alfa 150 U/kg in the first TIW study and with 10,000 U subcutaneously in the other study, with doubling of the dose if hemoglobin (Hb) response was inadequate. Patients in the QW study received epoetin alfa 40,000 U subcutaneously, which could be increased to 60,000 U. The maximum treatment duration for all three studies was 16 weeks. A total of 1748 lung cancer patients were evaluable for hematopoietic response; 1298 were evaluable for analyses of energy and 1300 were evaluable for analyses of activity and overall quality of life (QOL), as measured by the linear analogue scale assessment (LASA). Within 2 months of therapy, TIW and QW epoetin alfa therapy resulted in significant increases in Hb levels, decreases in transfusion requirements, and improvements in self-reported LASA scores. Increased Hb levels and reduced transfusion rates were demonstrated in the individual studies and in the analysis of data pooled from all three studies. Improvements in QOL parameters were significantly correlated with increased Hb levels. Epoetin alfa was well tolerated in all studies. The clinical benefits and safety profiles of the TIW and the QW schedules appear to be similar. In addition, the QW schedule provides greater convenience to patients and physicians alike. Given the high incidence of anemia and transfusion utilization in patients presenting with lung cancer, epoetin alfa is an effective strategy for correcting anemia in these patients, thereby improving their energy levels, activity levels, and overall QOL.