February 5, 2009

Anemia Common in Lung Cancer Patients

A European study of anemia and cancer reports that anemia is common in lung cancer patients and often untreated.

Results from the European Cancer Anemia Survey (ECAS) suggest that anemia is common in lung cancer patients and that current treatment patterns are less than optimal. The study included 2002 lung cancer patients.

  • 38% of patients were anemic at enrollment.
  • The rate of anemia varied by type of treatment. Anemia affected 50% of patients treated with concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy, 39% of patients treated with chemotherapy, 32% of patients treated with radiation therapy, and 31% of patients receiving no treatment.
  • Among patients receiving chemotherapy, anemia was more common with platinum-based regimens. At enrollment, 50% of patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy regimens were anemic, compared to 31% of patients treated with non-platinum-based regimens.
  • 83% of patients who received chemotherapy were anemic at some point, and the proportion of anemic patients increased across chemotherapy cycles. For patients receiving platinum-based regimens, the rate of anemia increased from 24% at cycle 1 to 77% at cycle 6. For patients receiving non-platinum-based regimens, the rate of anemia increased from 33% at cycle 1 to 58% at cycle 6.
  • Only 47% of anemic patients were treated for anemia.
  • Patients who were treated for anemia often did not receive anemia treatment until hemoglobin levels were relatively low.
  • Female patients were more likely to develop anemia than male patients.

The researchers note that timely anemia treatment is important to maintaining quality of life in patients with lung cancer. Given the high frequency of anemia in lung cancer patients and the often late initiation (or non-initiation) of anemia treatment, changes in anemia monitoring and management may be warranted.

Reference: Kosmidis P, Krzakowski M, and The ECAS Investigators. Anemia Profiles in Patients with Lung Cancer: What Have We Learned From the European Cancer Anaemia Survey (ECAS)? Lung Cancer. 2005;50:401-12.

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Tags: General Lung Cancer, Lung Cancer, Uncategorized