Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness and improvement in quality of life (QOL) of epoetin alfa administration supplemented with oral iron as a therapeutic regimen for patients with solid malignancies and anemia of chronic disease (ACD), not receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
Patients and methods: A total of 100 patients with cancer-related anemia, not subjected to chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, were randomized to receive for a maximum of 24 weeks either oral iron, equivalent to 200 mg elemental iron once daily, or epoetin alfa 40,000 IU subcutaneously once weekly plus oral iron once daily.
Results: Patients in the epoetin alfa group had, from baseline to study end, a mean increase in hemoglobin (Hb) levels of 2.4 g/dL, whereas in the control group the mean Hb level decreased by 0.1 g/dL, (p<0.001). Improvement in QOL as assessed by the LASA and the FACT-An questionnaire were greater in patients in the epoetin alfa group than in the control group (mean change, LASA-energy level: 30.4 mm vs. 0.4 mm, -daily activities: 31.7 mm vs. 0.4 mm, -overall well-being. 32.4 mm vs. 4.9, FACT-An: 43.3 vs. 13.4, respectively). As for ECOG score, patients in the epoetin alfa group had a mean improvement of 0.16 from baseline to study end (control group: 0.06). Improvement in QOL parameters and in ECOG scores correlated positively with increased hemoglobin levels.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that weekly epoetin alfa therapy supplemented with daily oral iron increases Hb levels and improves QOL in patients with solid malignancies and ACD who are not receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. This regimen offers optimal therapy in this population taking into consideration physician's convenience and patient's compliance.