Chemotherapy of non-small-cell lung cancer: Role of erythropoietin in the management of anemia

L. Del Mastro, A. Gennari, S. Donati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Main mechanisms involved in the development of chemotherapy-induced anemia are the direct bone marrow damage and the renal impairment with a secondary deficient production of erythropoietin. The first mechanism is induced by almost all cytotoxic drugs whilst the second one has been demonstrated with cisplatin treatment. NSCLC patients are generally treated with platinum-based chemotherapy and then both mechanisms are involved in the development of anemia which can be, as a consequence, more frequent and more severe compared to other cancer patients. Chemotherapy regimens such as MVP (mitomycin, vindesine, platin), cisplatin-etoposide and cisplatin-teniposide induce grade ≥2 anemia in 64%, 46% and 83% of patients, respectively, with grade 3-4 anemia occurring in 29%, 15% and 24% of patients. New chemotherapy regimens are also associated with a high incidence of anemia. Carboplatin- paclitaxel induces grade 3-4 anemia in 34% of patients and 30% of patients need blood transfusions. Similarly, 33% of patients treated with cisplatin- gemcitabine require blood transfusions. Erythropoietin is able to correct anemia in nearly 60%-80% of patients receiving platinum-based chemotherapy and in nearly 40% of patients treated with regimens without platinum compounds, leading to a reduction in blood transfusion requirement. Moreover, erythropoietin is able to prevent anemia development in cancer patients. Due to the high incidence of anemia, erythropoietin may represent an important tool in the supportive care of NSCLC patients. Erythropoietin use is mainly limited by the economic cost and then efforts should be made to identify the subset of patients in whom this supportive therapy is cost-effective. Patient and disease characteristics, factors predicting the probability to be transfused as well as factors predicting the response to erythropoietin can be useful in selecting patients likely to benefit from erythropoietin therapy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue numberSUPPL. 5
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Anemia
  • Chemotherapy
  • Erythropoietin
  • Lung cancer
  • Review
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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