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Review: erythropoiesis-stimulating agents increase mortality and venous thromboembolism in cancer-associated anaemia

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C L Bennett

Dr C L Bennett, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA;


In patients with cancer-associated anaemia, do erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) increase mortality and venous thromboembolism (VTE)?


Included studies evaluated ESAs (erythropoietin and darbepoetin) in patients with cancer and anaemia. Outcomes were mortality and VTE.


Medline and EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (Apr 2005 to Jan 2008); a previous Cochrane review* (studies published between 1985 and Apr 2005); websites of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee 2007 meeting) and ESA manufacturers; and reports by health authorities and at national conferences were searched for phase 3 trials. 54 trials met the selection criteria: 51 reported survival (n = 13 611); 38 reported VTE (n = 8172). 43 trials evaluated epoetin-α or β (n = 9033), and 11 evaluated darbepoetin (n = 4733). Duration of treatment ranged from 6 …

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  • Source of funding: National Cancer Institute and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.