Study Analyzes ESA & Blood Transfusion for Anemic Cancer Patients

by: cancercompass

Drugs commonly used to treat anemia worsened survival rates in anemic cancer patients, reports the National Anemia Action Council (NAAC).

Erythropoiesis-stimulated agents (ESAs), according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are genetically engineered forms of erythropoietin, a naturally occurring human protein, which derives from the kidney and increases red blood cells.  The drug Procrit is one such ESA example.

According to the NAAC, transfusions are often used to treat chemotherapy-induced anemia and can help increase overall hemoglobin level when ESA therapy alone isn't working. Recent research published in The Lancet compared the safety of ESA plus transfusion against transfusion treatment alone.

NAAC reported that the study's authors analyzed data from nearly 14,000 patients from 53 separate clinical trials. The results showed that patients who received ESAs in addition to transfusions experienced a 17% higher mortality rate during the active study period and a 6% lower overall survival rate than patients only receiving transfusions.

Previous clinical trials have shown ESA treatments to have adverse effects, such as heart attacks and tumor progression. According to the FDA, "ESAs are not approved to treat the symptoms of anemia - including fatigue - in cancer patients, surgical patients, or those with HIV."