Background: Current guidelines are inconclusive regarding intravenous (IV) iron for treatment of chemotherapy-induced anaemia (CIA).
Material and methods: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials comparing IV iron with no iron or oral iron for treatment of chemotherapy induced anaemia (CIA).
Primary outcomes: haematopoietic response and red blood cell (RBC) transfusion requirements. For dichotomous data, relative risks (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated and pooled. For continuous data, weighted mean differences were calculated.
Results: Eleven trials included 1681 patients, the majority examining the addition of IV iron to erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESA) (1562 patients, 92.9%). IV iron significantly increased haematopoietic response rate [RR 1.28 (95% CI 1.125-1.45), seven trials with ESA] and decreased the rate of blood transfusions both in trials with ESA [RR 0.76 (95% CI 0.61-0.95), seven trials] and without ESA [RR 0.52 (95% CI 0.34-0.80)]. The increase in haematopoietic response rate correlated with total IV iron dose, regardless of baseline iron status. Mortality and safety profile was comparable between groups.
Conclusions: IV iron added to ESA results in an increase in haematopoietic response and reduction in the need for RBC transfusions, with no difference in mortality or adverse events.