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Addition of darbepoetin alfa to dose-dense chemotherapy: results from a randomized phase II trial in small-cell lung cancer patients receiving carboplatin plus etoposide.

Author(s): Nagel S, Kellner O, Engel-Riedel W, Guetz S, Schumann C, Gieseler F, Schuette W

Affiliation(s): Hospital Martha-Maria, Halle-Doelau, Germany.

Publication date & source: 2011-01, Clin Lung Cancer., 12(1):62-9.

Publication type: Clinical Trial, Phase II; Multicenter Study; Randomized Controlled Trial

Darbepoetin alfa, an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA), is used in cancer patients as a supportive care for anemia. For small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), several studies have shown that the administration of ESAs does not affect survival but decreases the need for blood transfusions and improves the quality of life (QOL) of patients receiving chemotherapy. The present randomized phase II study assessed the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of the administration of darbepoetin alfa to patients with SCLC receiving dose-dense (every 2 weeks) standard chemotherapy consisting of carboplatin plus etoposide, pegfilgrastim prophylactically. Seventy-four chemotherapy-naive patients with limited or extensive SCLC received combination chemotherapy for 6 cycles, and half of the patients additionally received darbepoetin to achieve a target hemoglobin concentration of 12-13 g/dL. The primary study outcome, progression-free survival, showed no difference between the 2 arms of the study. Among the secondary endpoints, objective response was similar in the presence and absence of darbepoetin (best response rates = 75.0% vs. 77.8%). Likewise, 1-year survival rates were not different between the 2 treatment arms (40.1% vs. 45.9%). There were no significant differences in grade 3/4 toxicities. As expected, the need for blood transfusions differed significantly: 19.4% of patients in the darbepoetin arm received transfusions versus 38.9% in the control arm. Analysis of European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) scales at different time points showed that the darbepoetin group's QOL was significantly better for certain readouts and never significantly worse than that of the control group. Thus, the combination of darbepoetin alfa with dose-dense carboplatin plus etoposide was feasible and well tolerated. Addition of darbepoetin alfa to chemotherapy lowered the need for blood transfusions and did not affect measures of survival and objective response.

Page last updated: 2011-12-09

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