Efficacy of granulocyte colony stimulating factor in combination with erythropoiesis stimulating agents for treatment of anemia in patients with lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes: A systematic review
Affentranger L, Bohlius J, Hallal M, Bonadies N
Critical reviews in oncology/hematology. 2019;136:37-47
Anemic patients with lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes are frequently treated with erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESA), eventually in combination with granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). However, the evidence for the efficacy of a combined treatment remains controversial. The goal of our analysis was to assess the available evidence for a combined treatment. We performed a systematic review and identified only nine eligible studies. In two randomized controlled trials (n = 98), erythroid response rates were 33% and 40% after low-/standard-doses of ESA alone (10,000-30,000 rHuEPO equivalents/week) versus 65% and 73% after combination treatment. In seven trials with sequential drug administration (n = 393), erythroid response rates ranged from 12% to 71% after full-doses of ESA alone (60,000-80,000 rHuEPO equivalents/week) and from 35% to 74% after combination therapy. Our analysis supports an additional efficacy of G-CSF added to low-/standard-dose ESA, but the available data remains controversial, if G-CSF is added to full-dose ESA.
Management of Cancer-Associated Anemia With Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents: ASCO/ASH Clinical Practice Guideline Update
Bohlius J, Bohlke K, Lazo-Langner A
Journal of oncology practice. 2019;:Jop1900111
Management of cancer-associated anemia with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents: ASCO/ASH clinical practice guideline update
Bohlius J, Bohlke K, Castelli R, Djulbegovic B, Lustberg MB, Martino M, Mountzios G, Peswani N, Porter L, Tanaka TN, et al
Blood advances. 2019;3(8):1197-1210
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PURPOSE To update the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)/American Society of Hematology (ASH) recommendations for use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in patients with cancer. METHODS PubMed and the Cochrane Library were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses of RCTs in patients with cancer published from January 31, 2010, through May 14, 2018. For biosimilar ESAs, the literature search was expanded to include meta-analyses and RCTs in patients with cancer or chronic kidney disease and cohort studies in patients with cancer due to limited RCT evidence in the cancer setting. ASCO and ASH convened an Expert Panel to review the evidence and revise previous recommendations as needed. RESULTS The primary literature review included 15 meta-analyses of RCTs and two RCTs. A growing body of evidence suggests that adding iron to treatment with an ESA may improve hematopoietic response and reduce the likelihood of RBC transfusion. The biosimilar literature review suggested that biosimilars of epoetin alfa have similar efficacy and safety to reference products, although evidence in cancer remains limited. RECOMMENDATIONS ESAs (including biosimilars) may be offered to patients with chemotherapy-associated anemia whose cancer treatment is not curative in intent and whose hemoglobin has declined to < 10 g/dL. RBC transfusion is also an option. With the exception of selected patients with myelodysplastic syndromes, ESAs should not be offered to most patients with nonchemotherapy-associated anemia. During ESA treatment, hemoglobin may be increased to the lowest concentration needed to avoid transfusions. Iron replacement may be used to improve hemoglobin response and reduce RBC transfusions for patients receiving ESA with or without iron deficiency. Additional information is available at www.asco.org/supportive-care-guidelines and www.hematology.org/guidelines.
Patients with cancer or chronic kidney disease (17 studies).
Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) including biosimilars.
Addition of iron to an ESA, placebo or best standard therapy.
A growing body of evidence suggested that adding iron to treatment with an ESA may improve hematopoietic response and reduce the likelihood of red blood cell transfusion. The biosimilar literature review suggested that biosimilars of epoetin alfa have similar efficacy and safety to reference products, although evidence in cancer remained limited.
Does access to clinical study reports from the European Medicines Agency reduce reporting biases? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the effect of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in cancer patients
Rohner E, Grabik M, Tonia T, Juni P, Petavy F, Pignatti F, Bohlius J
Plos One. 2017;12((12)):e0189309.
Since 2010, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has provided access to clinical study reports (CSRs). We requested CSRs for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in cancer patients from EMA and identified RCT publications with literature searches. We assessed CSR availability and completeness, the impact of unreported and unpublished data obtained from CSRs on the effects of ESAs on quality of life (QoL) of cancer patients, and discrepancies between data reported in the public domain and in CSRs. We used random-effects meta-analyses to evaluate the effect of ESAs on QoL measured with Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Anemia (FACT-An), FACT-Fatigue (FACT-F) and FACT-Anemia Total (FACT-An Total) stratified by data source and the impact of discrepancies on QoL, mortality, adverse events, and clinical effectiveness outcomes. We identified 94 eligible RCTs; CSRs or other study documentation were available for 17 (18%) RCTs at EMA. Median report length was 1,825 pages (range 72-14,569). Of 180 outcomes of interest reported in the EMA documentation, 127 (71%) were publicly available. For 80 of those (63%) we noted discrepancies, but these had little impact on the pooled effect estimates. Of 27 QoL outcomes reported in the CSRs, 17 (63%) were unpublished. Including six unpublished comparisons (pooled mean difference [MD] 0.20; 95% confidence interval [CI] -1.93, 2.33) reduced the pooled effect of ESAs for FACT-An from MD 5.51 (95% CI 4.20, 6.82) in published data to MD 3.21 (95% CI 1.38, 5.03), which is below a clinically important difference (defined as MD ≥4). Effects were similar for FACT-F and FACT-An Total. Access to CSRs from EMA reduced reporting biases for QoL outcomes. However, EMA received documentation for a fraction of all RCTs on effects of ESAs in cancer patients. Additional efforts by other agencies and institutions are needed to make CSRs universally available for all RCTs.
Effects of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents on fatigue- and anaemia-related symptoms in cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analyses of published and unpublished data
Bohlius J, Tonia T, Nuesch E, Juni P, Fey MF, Egger M, Bernhard J
British Journal of Cancer. 2014;111((1):):33-45.
Background:Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) reduce the need for red blood cell transfusions; however, they increase the risk of thromboembolic events and mortality. The impact of ESAs on quality of life (QoL) is controversial and led to different recommendations of medical societies and authorities in the USA and Europe. We aimed to critically evaluate and quantify the effects of ESAs on QoL in cancer patients.Methods:We included data from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on the effects of ESAs on QoL in cancer patients. Randomised controlled trials were identified by searching electronic data bases and other sources up to January 2011. To reduce publication and outcome reporting biases, we included unreported results from clinical study reports. We conducted meta-analyses on fatigue- and anaemia-related symptoms measured with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Fatigue (FACT-F) and FACT-Anaemia (FACT-An) subscales (primary outcomes) or other validated instruments.Results:We identified 58 eligible RCTs. Clinical study reports were available for 27% (4 out of 15) of the investigator-initiated trials and 95% (41 out of 43) of the industry-initiated trials. We excluded 21 RTCs as we could not use their QoL data for meta-analyses, either because of incomplete reporting (17 RCTs) or because of premature closure of the trial (4 RCTs). We included 37 RCTs with 10581 patients; 21 RCTs were placebo controlled. Chemotherapy was given in 27 of the 37 RCTs. The median baseline haemoglobin (Hb) level was 10.1gdl(-1); in 8 studies ESAs were stopped at Hb levels below 13gdl(-1) and in 27 above 13gdl(-1). For FACT-F, the mean difference (MD) was 2.41 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.39-3.43; P<0.0001; 23 studies, n=6108) in all cancer patients and 2.81 (95% CI 1.73-3.90; P<0.0001; 19 RCTs, n=4697) in patients receiving chemotherapy, which was below the threshold (3) for a clinically important difference (CID). Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents had a positive effect on anaemia-related symptoms (MD 4.09; 95% CI 2.37-5.80; P=0.001; 14 studies, n=2765) in all cancer patients and 4.50 (95% CI 2.55-6.45; P<0.0001; 11 RCTs, n=2436) in patients receiving chemotherapy, which was above the threshold (4) for a CID. Of note, this effect persisted when we restricted the analysis to placebo-controlled RCTs in patients receiving chemotherapy. There was some evidence that the MDs for FACT-F were above the threshold for a CID in RCTs including cancer patients receiving chemotherapy with Hb levels below 12gdl(-1) at baseline and in RCTs stopping ESAs at Hb levels above 13gdl(-1). However, these findings for FACT-F were not confirmed when we restricted the analysis to placebo-controlled RCTs in patients receiving chemotherapy.Conclusions:In cancer patients, particularly those receiving chemotherapy, we found that ESAs provide a small but clinically important improvement in anaemia-related symptoms (FACT-An). For fatigue-related symptoms (FACT-F), the overall effect did not reach the threshold for a CID.
Erythropoietin or darbepoetin for patients with cancer
Tonia T, Mettler A, Robert N, Schwarzer G, Seidenfeld J, Weingart O, Hyde C, Engert A, Bohlius J
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012;12:CD003407.
BACKGROUND Anaemia associated with cancer and cancer therapy is an important clinical factor in the treatment of malignant diseases. Therapeutic alternatives are recombinant human erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs) and red blood cell transfusions. OBJECTIVES To assess the effects of ESAs to either prevent or treat anaemia in cancer patients. SEARCH METHODS This is an update of a Cochrane review first published in 2004. We searched the Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE and EMBASE and other databases. Searches were done for the periods 01/1985 to 12/2001 for the first review, 1/2002 to 04/2005 for the first update and to November 2011 for the current update. We also contacted experts in the field and pharmaceutical companies. SELECTION CRITERIA Randomised controlled trials on managing anaemia in cancer patients receiving or not receiving anti-cancer therapy that compared the use of ESAs (plus transfusion if needed). DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS Several review authors assessed trial quality and extracted data. One review author assessed quality assessment and extracted data, a second review author checked for correctness. MAIN RESULTS This update of the systematic review includes a total of 91 trials with 20,102 participants. Use of ESAs significantly reduced the relative risk of red blood cell transfusions (risk ratio (RR) 0.65; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.62 to 0.68, 70 trials, N = 16,093). On average, participants in the ESAs group received one unit of blood less than the control group (mean difference (MD) -0.98; 95% CI -1.17 to -0.78, 19 trials, N = 4,715). Haematological response was observed more often in participants receiving ESAs (RR 3.93; 95% CI 3.10 to 3.71, 31 trials, N = 6,413). There was suggestive evidence that ESAs may improve Quality of Life (QoL). There was strong evidence that ESAs increase mortality during active study period (hazard ratio (HR) 1.17; 95% CI 1.06 to 1.29, 70 trials, N = 15,935) and some evidence that ESAs decrease overall survival (HR 1.05; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.11, 78 trials, N = 19,003). The risk ratio for thromboembolic complications was increased in patients receiving ESAs compared to controls (RR 1.52, 95% CI 1.34 to 1.74; 57 trials, N = 15,498). ESAs may also increase the risk for hypertension (fixed-effect model: RR 1.30; 95% CI 1.08 to 1.56; random-effects model: RR 1.12; 95% CI 0.94 to 1.33, 31 trials, N = 7,228) and thrombocytopenia/haemorrhage (RR 1.21; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.42; 21 trials, N = 4,507). There was insufficient evidence to support an effect of ESA on tumour response (fixed-effect RR 1.02; 95% CI 0.98 to 1.06, 15 trials, N = 5,012). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS ESAs reduce the need for red blood cell transfusions but increase the risk for thromboembolic events and deaths. There is suggestive evidence that ESAs may improve QoL. Whether and how ESAs affects tumour control remains uncertain. The increased risk of death and thromboembolic events should be balanced against the potential benefits of ESA treatment taking into account each patient's clinical circumstances and preferences. More data are needed for the effect of these drugs on quality of life and tumour progression. Further research is needed to clarify cellular and molecular mechanisms and pathways of the effects of ESAs on thrombogenesis and their potential effects on tumour growth.
Twist and shout: one decade of meta-analyses of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in cancer patients
Bohlius J, Tonia T, Schwarzer G
Acta Haematologica. 2011;125((1-2):):55-67.
Anemia associated with cancer and cancer therapy is a common and important issue in the treatment of patients with malignant disease. Conventionally, blood transfusions are used to treat severe cancer-related anemia. Short- and long-acting preparations of recombinant human erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) offer an alternative treatment option. Multiple studies and subsequent meta-analyses have demonstrated that ESA treatment increases hemoglobin levels and reduces the likelihood of transfusion for a proportion of treated patients. However, studies that attempted to evaluate whether ESAs improve tumor response and survival have generated conflicting evidence. Results of smaller trials reporting improved survival outcomes were contradicted by large randomized controlled trials that reported more deaths in patients receiving ESAs. In addition, there is strong evidence that cancer patients receiving ESAs have an increased risk of thromboembolic and cardiovascular events. We herein review the main meta-analyses published in the field, their strengths and weaknesses, their contribution to patient management and future perspectives for systematic reviews. Copyright 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Ten years of meta-analyses on erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in cancer patients
Tonia T, Bohlius J
Hematopoietic Growth Factors in Oncology. 2011;((Chapter 13):):217-38.
Background: Since erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) were licensed in 1993, more than 70 randomized controlled trials and more than 20 meta-analyses and systematic reviews on their effectiveness were conducted. Here, we present a systematic review on the meta-analyses of trials evaluating ESAs in cancer patients. Methods: We included all published meta-analyses of at least five randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effects of ESAs versus control in patients with any type of cancer or myelodysplastic syndrome. Results: We included a total of 23 systematic reviews and meta-analyses (16 literature based and 7 based on individual patient data (IPD)) that assessed several outcomes. All 12 meta-analyses reporting on transfusion risks demonstrated that ESAs significantly reduce the risk of transfusions. Eleven meta-analyses (nine based on published data and two on IPD) evaluated thrombovascular events. An increased risk of thrombovascular events was observed in all but two meta-analyses (relative risks (RRs) ranging from 1.57 to 1.69). However, potential reporting and publication bias as well as detection bias call for a cautious interpretation of these results. Survival and mortality were evaluated in 18 meta-analyses, with the observed effect changing over time. While meta-analyses on studies conducted before 2002 showed beneficial effects of ESAs on survival, contrary results, i.e. worsened survival, was seen in meta-analyses including more recent studies. Discussion: The results from several meta-analyses show that ESAs in cancer patients reduce the risk for red blood cell transfusions and increase the risk for thrombovascular events and mortality. The effect of ESAs on mortality risk in patients receiving chemotherapy remains unclear. In clinical practice, the benefits and risks of ESAs should be carefully considered and decisions should be made based on each patient's situation and preferences.
Update on the use of epoetin and darbepoetin in adult patients with cancer: American Society of Clinical Oncology/American Society of Hematology Clinical Practice Guideline
Rizzo JD, Brouwers M, Hurley P, Seidenfeld J, Arcasoy MO, Spivak JL, Bennett CL, Bohlius J, Evanchuk D, Goode MJ, et al
Purpose: To update American Society of Hematology/American Society of Clinical Oncology recommendations for use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in patients with cancer. Methods: An Update Committee reviewed data published between January 2007 and January 2010. MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library were searched. Results: The literature search yielded one new individual patient data analysis and four literature-based meta-analyses, two systematic reviews, and 13 publications reporting new results from randomized controlled trials not included in prior or new reviews. Recommendations: For patients undergoing myelosuppressive chemotherapy who have a hemoglobin (Hb) level less than 10 g/dL, the Update Committee recommends that clinicians discuss potential harms (eg, thromboembolism, shorter survival) and benefits (eg, decreased transfusions) of ESAs and compare these with potential harms (eg, serious infections, immune-mediated adverse reactions) and benefits (eg, rapid Hb improvement) of RBC transfusions. Individual preferences for assumed risk should contribute to shared decisions on managing chemotherapy-induced anemia. The Committee cautions against ESA use under other circumstances. If used, ESAs should be administered at the lowest dose possible and should increase Hb to the lowest concentration possible to avoid transfusions. Available evidence does not identify Hb levels >= 10 g/dL either as thresholds for initiating treatment or as targets for ESA therapy. Starting doses and dose modifications after response or nonresponse should follow US Food and Drug Administration-approved labeling. ESAs should be discontinued after 6 to 8 weeks in nonresponders. ESAs should be avoided in patients with cancer not receiving concurrent chemotherapy, except for those with lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes. Caution should be exercised when using ESAs with chemotherapeutic agents in diseases associated with increased risk of thromboembolic complications. Table 1 lists detailed recommendations.
Recombinant human erythropoiesis-stimulating agents and mortality in patients with cancer: a meta-analysis of randomised trials
Bohlius J, Schmidlin K, Brillant C, Schwarzer G, Trelle S, Seidenfeld J, Zwahlen M, Clarke M, Weingart O, Kluge S, et al