The Effect of Subcutaneous Recombinant Human Erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) on Anemia in Cancer Patients Receiving Platinum-Based Chemotherapy

J Pak Med Assoc. 1998 May;48(5):127-31.


Advanced cancer is commonly associated with significant anemia which worsens with the administration of cytotoxic drugs. Erythropoietin (EPO) levels in these patients are usually inappropriately low for the degree of anemia. We evaluated the effect of subcutaneous administration of recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) on hematologic parameters and transfusion requirements in anemic cancer patients who were receiving platinum-based chemotherapy. Baseline studies included complete hemogram, reticulocyte count, serum iron, TIBC, ferritin and determination of performance status and quality of life (QOL). Twenty-three patients, 13 females, 10 males with mean age 52 years received 150 units/kg of r-HuEPO three times weekly for a minimum of 10 weeks. They also received supplemental iron. Ovarian cancer was the commonest underlying malignancy. Most of the patients received platinum-based combination chemotherapy. Mean duration of r-HuEPO therapy was 12.6 weeks. Average baseline reticulocyte count was 1.8% which increased to 7.0% after one week therapy. Eight patients had normalization of hemoglobin values. Another eight patients improved their hemoglobin by at least 2 g/dl, however, hemoglobin values remained below the normal range. Two patients had only slight increase in hemoglobin but never required blood transfusion. Three patients who were transfusion dependent had decrease in the transfusion requirements. Two patients had no significant benefit. In most patients response was evident within 2 weeks. All responders had improvement in QOL. No significant toxicity was observed. We conclude that r-HuEPO, given subcutaneously, is highly effective in amelioration of anemia and prevention of or reduction in transfusion requirements in cancer patients receiving platinum-based chemotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Anemia / blood
  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage*
  • Erythropoietin / administration & dosage
  • Erythropoietin / blood
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Iron / blood
  • Iron / therapeutic use
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / complications
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Reticulocyte Count


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hemoglobins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Ferritins
  • Iron
  • Cisplatin