Anemia of cancer: Pathogenesis and treatment with recombinant erythropoietin

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The anemia of malignancy is common and is related to several etiologic factors, a major one being relative erythropoietin (Epo) deficiency. Blood transfusions, the traditional therapy, provides a quick solution but is associated with complications. This was the rationale for recombinant human Epo (rHuEpo) in the treatment of anemia of cancer. Over the past few years, about 20 publications have reported the results of rHuEpo in the treatment of cancer-associated anemia in more than 850 patients with a variety of malignancies. In general, more than half of the patients responded with a significant increase in their hemoglobin level, a decrease in blood transfusion requirements, and an improved performance status and quality of life. About 4 weeks are required till the onset of effect. The hormone is well tolerated with minimal adverse effects and subcutaneous injections appear to be the preferred method of administration. Additional studies will hopefully answer several questions including optimal dosage and duration of treatment, Epo resistance, and the possibility of predicting the response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1206
Number of pages6
JournalIsrael Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Erythropoietin


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