The excellent results achieved with the use of Epoetin (recombinant human erythropoietin, EPO) in the chronic anaemia of renal insufficiency raised expectations that it might also be able to correct the chronic anaemia of cancer.
In Austria and in the USA EPO is applied in a much broader spectrum of indications than it is registered for at the central European Agency EMEA. This is, because EPO was already registered in Austria at the beginning of the 90s – locally and for more indications - earlier than in other European countries. While EPO is most effective in the treatment of anaemia of some haematological malignancies, the results in anaemia of solid tumours is less conclusive.
Thus it was the aim of this study to assess the effectivity of erythropoietin when used in cancer related anemia with an emphasis on solid tumours. The question of wether a significant improvement in the quality of life in correlation to an increase in haemoglobin (hb) is noticed, can be answered positively regarding scientific criteria for studies with initially low hb-levels. The few scientific studies which also consider economic aspects show that therapy with erythropoietin is more expensive than conventional treatment with blood transfusions. A response rate of 50-60% and a high price require a correct anaemia diagnosis and a supervision of the therapy success. The development of recommendations for the specific use of erythropoietin in the oncological field should have top priority.