Quality-of-life benefit in chemotherapy patients treated with epoetin alfa is independent of disease response or tumor type: results from a prospective community oncology study. Procrit Study Group.
PURPOSE: To evaluate prospectively the effectiveness of epoetin alfa as an adjunct to chemotherapy in patients with cancer based on changes in quality-of-life parameters and hemoglobin levels, and to correlate these changes with antitumor response. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Two thousand three hundred seventy patients with nonmyeloid malignancies who received chemotherapy were enrolled onto this study from 621 US community-based practices. Patients received epoetin alfa 10,000 U three times weekly, which could be increased to 20,000 U three times weekly depending on the hemoglobin response at 4 weeks. Treatment continued for a maximum of 16 weeks in patients who showed evidence of hematologic response. RESULTS: Two thousand two hundred eighty-nine patients (97%) were eligible for efficacy analyses. Epoetin alfa therapy was associated with improved quality-of-life parameters; these improvements correlated significantly with hemoglobin levels and were independent of tumor response. Provider-reported Karnofsky performance scores did not correlate with the improved quality-of-life changes. Epoetin alfa therapy was also associated with a significant increase in hemoglobin levels and decrease in transfusion use. Tumor type, chemotherapy agent/regimen, prior chemotherapy, baseline hemoglobin level, and baseline erythropoietin level were not predictive of a positive response to treatment. Epoetin alfa was well tolerated. CONCLUSION: Epoetin alfa appears to have a beneficial impact on patient-reported functional capacity and quality of life in patients with cancer who received chemotherapy independent of tumor response. Concordantly, epoetin alfa appeared to increase hemoglobin levels and decrease transfusion use. Patients responded across all tumor types. The results suggest that epoetin alfa effectively improves functional outcomes in patients with cancer who receive chemotherapy.