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Anemia and Cancer: Proper Use of Hematopoietic Factors

April-June 2017, Volume 12, Number 2
Javier Cassinello, Edison Caviedes, Cynthia López-Hervás and Luis Chara
Medical Oncology Service, University Hospital of Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Spain

Anemia is a common complication in cancer patients. It is associated with decreased physical performance and poor prognosis for life expectancy and exerts a negative influence on quality of life. The etiology of anemia in cancer patients is related with red blood cell losses, increased red blood cell destruction, and decreased red blood cell production. In cancer-related anemia, the main therapeutic options available are red blood cell transfusions, erythropoiesis-stimulating agents if the anemia is chemotherapy or radiotherapy associated, and intravenous iron. Red blood cell transfusions remain an efficient treatment, especially when there is a need for immediate increase in hemoglobin levels; however, it is related with infectious and non-infectious adverse events. The use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents reduces the risk of red blood cell transfusions, increases hemoglobin levels, and improves quality of life; however, in some circumstances its use can increase the risk of thrombotic events and has been related with increased mortality.

Key words:
Anemia. Cancer. Erythropoiesis stimulating agent. Transfusion. Iron treatment.
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