Managing Anemia Associated With Chemotherapy Treatment

Managing Anemia Associated With Chemotherapy Treatment



This year, an​ estimated 1.3 million cancer patients will undergo chemotherapy and​ more than two-thirds of​ these patients will develop anemia, a​ low red blood cell count. Anemia is​ one of​ the​ most common side effects of​ chemotherapy and​ can negatively affect patients and​ impact their daily activities.

"Chemotherapy attacks fast- growing cancer cells, but it​ can also kill normal cells like red blood cells that transport oxygen from the​ lungs to​ the​ body's muscles," said Dr. Ralph Boccia, director of​ clinical research, Center for​ Cancer and​ Blood Disorders, Bethesda, Md. "As a​ result, the​ body's tissues are starved of​ oxygen, making a​ patient feel short of​ breath, very weak, faint and​ tired."

More than half of​ chemotherapy patients report that fatigue, a​ common symptom of​ anemia, affects their daily lives more than any other side effect, including nausea, pain and​ depression. Further, anemia is​ often undertreated, despite the​ availability of​ treatments for​ more than a​ decade.

Typically, anemia treatment takes more than two hours per visit. Now, there is​ a​ treatment option that provides added conve-nience from current weekly dosing. Recently, the​ U.S. Food and​ Drug Administration approved every-three-week starting dosing of​ 500 mcg of​ Aranesp® (darbepoetin alfa) for​ the​ treatment of​ chemotherapy-induced anemia in​ patients with certain types of​ cancer. This allows physicians to​ synchronize anemia treatment with most chemotherapy schedules, increasing convenience for​ patients and​ caregivers by reducing the​ number of​ clinic visits and​ injections for​ anemia treatment.

"Receiving anemia treatment every three weeks on the​ same schedule as​ my chemotherapy was convenient for​ me and​ my family," said Danielle Mannix, who suffered from anemia. "We had fewer visits to​ the​ doctor for​ anemia treatments, which gave me more time for​ my regular daily activities."

Aranesp is​ contraindicated in​ patients with uncontrolled hypertension. Erythropoietic therapies may increase the​ risk of​ thrombotic events and​ other serious events.




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