Use of erythropoietin in cancer patients: Assessment of oncologists' practice patterns in the United States and other countries

Jared R. Adams, Linda S. Elting, Gary H. Lyman, James N. George, Barry C. Lembersky, James O. Armitage, George D. Demetri, Charles L. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To assess physician use of erythropoietin in cancer patients before publication of the American Society of Clinical Oncology/American Society of Hematology guidelines. METHODS: Questionnaires about erythropoietin use in practice and 12 hypothetical clinical scenarios involving patients with cancer were mailed to 2000 oncologists/hematologists in the United States and 19 other countries. Response rates were 30% in the United States and 25% internationally. Data on erythropoietin use for ovarian cancer were obtained from one clinical trial. Multivariate regression models assessed predictors of erythropoietin prescription. RESULTS: Most physicians selected a hemoglobin level ≤10 g/dL as an upper threshold for erythropoietin use (36% to 51% of U.S. physicians and 21% to 32% of foreign physicians). Frequent erythropoietin use (defined as use in at least 10% of cancer patients) was higher in the United States than elsewhere (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 5.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.5 to 13.4). Among U.S. physicians, those who said they used erythropoietin frequently were more likely to be in fee-for-service than managed care settings (OR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.3 to 3.7). Those who reported never using erythropoietin practiced in countries that had lower annual per capita health care expenditures, lower proportions of privately funded health care, and a national health service (P <0.05 for all comparisons). Of 235 ovarian cancer patients who received topotecan, 38% (45/118) of U.S. patients and 2% (2/117) of European patients who developed grade 1 anemia (hemoglobin level between 10 and 12 g/dL) were treated with erythropoietin (P <0.01). CONCLUSION: Financial considerations and a hemoglobin level <10 g/dL appear to influence erythropoietin use in the United States, whereas financial considerations alone determine erythropoietin use abroad.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-34
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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