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Blood & Cancer host David Henry, MD, welcomes John Glaspy, MD, to talk about anemia in cancer. And in today's Clinical Correlation, Ilana Yurkiewicz, MD, talks apathy. Dr. Yurkiewicz has a column at MDedge, which you can find by clicking here.
By Emily Bryer, DO, resident in the department of internal medicine, University of Pennsylvania
- Hemoglobin is associated with quality of life and functional status, and quality of life improves continuously as hemoglobin rises from low (8 g/dL) to normal (12 g/dL) levels.
- The complete workup of anemia involves reticulocyte count, iron studies, folate, B12, peripheral smear, and creatinine.
- Anemia is a consequence of 1) cancer and 2) chemotherapy
- In patients with malignancy, the inflammatory state results in iron-restricted erythropoiesis, so patients may be functionally iron deficient even if their iron stores are replete.
- How do we treat anemia in cancer?
- Blood transfusion to rapidly improve hemoglobin
- Intravenous iron, if iron deficient
- Erythrocyte stimulating agents (ESA), if iron stores are replete. (Although IV iron augments ESA response in all cancer studies reported so far.)
- Risks associated with blood transfusion: Infection, transfusion-related-lung-injury, reactions to mismatched or well-matched blood, and iron overload (specifically in myelodysplastic syndrome).
- Recent FDA-mandated studies in anemic metastatic breast and non-small-cell lung cancer patients have demonstrated that there is no difference in survival among patients who receive ESA or placebo to treat their cancer/chemotherapy-associated anemia.
- HIF-1-alpha (hypoxia-inducible-factor) is a transcription factor produced in response to hypoxia.
- New class of drugs stabilizing HIF can result in both an increase in erythropoiesis and a decrease in hepcidin.
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