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Chan A, Lim LLC, Tao M
Correspondence: Dr Alexandre Chan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction Recombinant erythropoietin-stimulating agents have been used to ameliorate the symptoms of anaemia in cancer patients. However, there have been concerns about an increased risk of thromboembolic events and mortality. This study reviews the usage of epoetin alfa in treating chemotherapy-induced anaemia at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), as well as the prescribing and monitoring practices employed.
Methods Cancer patients who have received at least one dose of epoetin alfa at the NCCS between January 1, 2005 and October 15, 2007 were included in this study.
Results A total of 121 patients were identified and 91 patients were eligible for data collection. The majority of patients manifested breast cancer (30.8 percent) and ovarian cancer (15.4 percent). Over 90 percent of the patients were receiving either chemotherapy or radiotherapy when epoetin alfa was initiated. Epoetin alfa was initiated at a median haemoglobin level of 8.7 (range 7–14.3) g/dL. Approximately 41.8 percent of the patients had a positive response after the initiation of epoetin alfa. Baseline iron studies were performed in 12.1 percent of the patients. Blood pressure was uncontrolled, according to the Singapore Ministry of Health Hypertension guideline, in a substantial number of patients (32.6 percent) prior to the initiation epoetin alfa. There were no documented thromboembolic events.
Conclusion This study identified a broad range of practices in the utilisation of epoetin alfa at NCCS, which may explain the variable patient response to epoetin alfa. The results of this study will be used to improve the management of chemotherapy-induced anaemia at the institution.
Keywords: anaemia, cancer, epoetin alfa, erythropoietin-stimulating agent, recombinant erythropoietin-stimulating agent
Singapore Med J 2009; 50(4): 365-370