Background: There is rising evidence that anemia and blood transfusion increase perioperative mortality in cancer patients. Patients who are treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy with a curative intent are exposed to toxicity that may negatively affect their future outcome.
Methods: The charts of 29 patients (21 males; median age, 59.5 years; range, 37 to 73), receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy for cT3 esophagogastric adenocarcinoma operated at a single university center in the year 2002, were retrospectively reviewed to assess the incidence of anemia and blood transfusions.
Results: Twenty-six patients received platinum-based chemotherapy over a period of 12 weeks and three patients more than 6 weeks. The median hemoglobin level (Hb level) before chemotherapy was 14.0 g/dL (range, 10.4 to 15.9 g/dL), the median decline of the Hb level was 2.9 g/dL (range, 0.3 to 6.3 g/dL); this drop was statistically significant (p < 0.001, 95% confidence interval). Patients who received preoperative blood transfusions (n = 8, 28%) had a significantly increased risk of developing postoperative complications (p = 0.028).
Conclusions: Preoperative chemotherapy for locally advanced esophagogastric cancer induces anemia and therefore leads to preoperative blood supplementation in a considerable number of patients. Data indicate that this may counteract the beneficial effects of neoadjuvant treatment.