A prospective open-label study was designed to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and impact on quality of life of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO, epoetin alfa) therapy for cancer-related anemia. Of the 401 patients enrolled at 34 centers from across Canada, a cohort of 183 patients did not receive chemotherapy during the 16-week study period. All patients received epoetin alfa 150 IU/kg subcutaneously 3 times per week. The dose was increased to 300 IU/kg if the hemoglobin level did not increase by at least 1.0 g/dL after 4 weeks. Epoetin alfa therapy significantly increased hemoglobin levels and reduced transfusion requirements. Moreover, epoetin alfa provided statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in quality of life as measured by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Anemia and Linear Analog Scale Assessment (also known as Cancer Linear Analog Scale). Increases in hemoglobin were correlated significantly with improvements in quality of life as well as Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status. Treatment with epoetin alfa was well tolerated. These results demonstrate that epoetin alfa therapy is effective and safe in cancer patients with anemia, regardless of whether they are or are not receiving chemotherapy.
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