Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Quality of Life, Hematologic End Points, and Safety of Weekly Epoetin Alfa in Children With Cancer Receiving Myelosuppressive Chemotherapy

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Abstract

Purpose

To evaluate the effects of once-weekly epoetin alfa (EPO) on health-related quality of life (HRQOL), hemoglobin (Hb), transfusions, and tolerability in children with cancer.

Methods

Anemic patients 5 years to 18 years of age receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy for nonmyeloid malignancies, excluding brain tumors, received intravenous EPO 600 units/kg to 900 units/kg or placebo once-weekly for 16 weeks. Patients and parents completed the pediatric health-related quality-of-life generic scales (GS) and cancer-specific scales (CS).

Results

One hundred eleven patients received EPO and 111 patients received placebo. Mean final values for GS total score (P = .763 among patients; P = .219 among parents) and CS domain scores (P ≥ .238; P ≥ .081, respectively) were not significantly different between treatment groups. EPO-treated patients had greater increases in Hb overall (P = .002) and were more likely to be transfusion free after 4 weeks (38.7% v 22.5%; P = .010). Change in Hb was correlated with change in PedsQL-GCS total score in the EPO group (r = 0.242; P = .018), but was not in the placebo group (r = 0.086; P = .430). Adverse events were comparable between treatment groups.

Conclusion

This study confirmed the tolerability and hematologic benefits of once-weekly EPO in children with cancer. No significant difference in HRQOL was detected between treatment groups, but a significant positive correlation was observed between Hb changes and HRQOL changes in the EPO group. Additional studies are warranted to assess HRQOL when anemia is managed optimally in children with cancer.

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