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Drugs to treat anemia in cancer patients linked to thromboembolism
Date:11/10/2009

NEW YORK Medications frequently given to cancer patients to reduce their risk of anemia are associated with an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, according to new research led by Dawn Hershman, M.D, M.S., co-director of the breast cancer program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. The findings will be published online on Nov. 10, 2009 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (ahead of the Dec. 2, 2009 print edition).

The anemia-reducing medications, known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (i.e., erythropoietin and darbopoietin) or ESAs, stimulate red blood cell production and are intended to reduce the number of blood transfusions required during chemotherapy. However, concerns about the risks of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (manifestations of venous thromboembolism) and mortality exist.

"This research answers important questions about outcomes of ESAs when used in long-term clinical practice with oncology patients," said Dr. Hershman, the Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, whose research is dedicated to examining cancer survivorship. "While ESAs were given to reduce the need for blood transfusions, a substantial reduction in the use of blood transfusions was not observed. However, an increase risk of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism was confirmed."

"This analysis confirms the association between ESAs and venous thromboembolism, which was observed in previous meta-analysis," said Dr. Hershman. "This new finding is significant because where the meta-analysis looked at pooled data from randomized clinical trials, this data is from community practice real-life clinical settings where you can often see things that wouldn't necessarily show-up in a short-term, 12-week study. Additionally, this analysis included data from
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Contact: Elizabeth Streich
eas2125@columbia.edu
212-305-6535
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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