Department of Public Health Sciences

Increased incidence of symptomatic venous thrombosis in patients with cervical carcinoma treated with concurrent chemotherapy, radiation, and erythropoietin

Wun T, Law L, Harvey D, Sieracki B, Scudder SA, Ryu JK

Cancer. 2003. 98(7):1514-20.

BACKGROUND: Because studies have suggested that anemia has an adverse effect on outcome for patients with cervical carcinoma who are treated with radiation, recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) has been used increasingly to maintain hemoglobin levels in these patients. Erythropoietin may increase the risk of thrombosis. The authors performed a retrospective analysis to determine whether there was an increased rate of symptomatic venous thrombosis associated with the use of rHuEpo in patients with carcinoma of the uterine cervix and vagina. METHODS: A retrospective, case-control study was performed on consecutive patients with localized carcinoma of the uterine cervix or vagina who were treated with chemotherapy and radiation (chemoradiotherapy). The primary outcome was symptomatic venous thrombosis. RESULTS: One hundred forty-seven patients were reviewed. When they were divided into women who received rHuEpo (n = 75 patients) and women who did not receive rHuEpo (n = 72 patients), there were no significant differences in age, height, weight, disease stage, or body mass index. Fewer patients in the rHuEpo group required transfusions. In the rHuEpo group, 17 of 75 patients had either an upper extremity thrombosis (n = 12 patients) or a lower extremity thrombosis (n = 7 patients): 2 patients had both, and 2 patients had more than 1 event. Two of 72 patients who did not receive rHuEpo had symptomatic thrombosis. Patients who received rHuEpo had an odds ratio (OR) of developing thrombosis of 10.3 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 2.3-46.2). Multiple logistic regression revealed that only the use of rHuEpo was associated with an increased risk of thrombosis (OR, 15.3; 95% CI, 3.1-76.7). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with cervical carcinoma who received chemoradiotherapy and rHuEpo had an increased risk of symptomatic venous thrombosis. Copyright 2003 American Cancer Society.DOI 10.1002/cncr.11700

Keywords: erythropoietin; thromboembolism; tumor hypoxia; uterine cervix



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