Erythropoietin and Iron Supplementation for Patients With Chemotherapy-induced Anaemia


Tongji University

Status and phase

Phase 4


Chemotherapy-induced Anaemia


Drug: Erythropoietins (EPO)
Drug: Aggressive iron dextran supplementation
Drug: Sustained iron dextran supplementation

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


A multicentre, randomized, open-label, parallel-group, active controlled non-inferiority study

Full description

Chemotherapy-induced anaemia (CIA) is a significant health problem for patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, causing fatigue and reducing quality of life (QoL). Up to 75% of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy reportedly experience mild-to-moderate anaemia (defined by a haemoglobin level of 9 to 11 g/dL). In clinical trials, erythropoietins (EPOs) have been shown to increase haemoglobin levels and improve anaemia and QoL in cancer patients. However, recent meta-analyses have highlighted possible safety issues regarding EPO exposure. Preclinical studies have pointed towards the role of EPO in augmenting tumorigenesis, metastasis, risk of thrombosis, and drug resistance in certain tumor types (e.g., breast cancer), as it can activate important antiapoptotic pathways targeted by current antineoplastic therapies, thus counteracting their effects. Current guidelines in western countries and China recommend restricted usage of EPOs and reduction / prevention of blood transfusions in the treatment of cancer-induced anaemia. However, the inadequate response to erythropoietic therapy has not been well-characterized through rigorous studies and hence remains poorly handled in routine clinical practice. A major cause for not responding to EPO treatment is likely functional iron deficiency (FID), which is defined as a failure to provide iron to the erythroblasts despite sufficient iron stores. Patients with FID require supplementation of usable iron to optimize response to erythropoietic therapy, which might not be accomplished with oral iron. In a recent prospective, open-label trial, patients receiving epoetin alfa for CIA who were treated with IV iron dextran had a significantly greater Hb response compared with those receiving oral iron. Meanwhile, in patients with CIA and no iron deficiency, IV iron supplementation significantly reduced treatment failures to darbepoetin without additional toxicity. However, whether that IV iron supplementation increases the risk of disease progression, incidence of thrombosis and heart failure as well as iron overload, is under careful investigation. Though the association between IV iron and serious AEs and mortality remains unclear, Zitt et al. found that the use of IV iron was associated with a 22% reduction in mortality. Therefore, investigators designed this multicentre, randomized trial to investigate EPOs in combination with IV iron with regard to an increase of Hb levels in patients who have inadequate responses to initial treatment with routine doses of EPOs.


603 estimated patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Aged 18 years or older;
  • Had histologically, cytologically or clinically diagnosed malignant tumour and measurable disease according to Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors (RECIST) version 1.1;
  • Undergoing adjuvant or palliative chemotherapy with an expected survival of at least 3 months;
  • Inadequately responsive or unresponsive to routine dosages of EPO treatment. Inadequate responders or nonresponders are defined as those CIA patients with an increase of Hb < 1g/dL after 4 weeks of treatment with 10, 000 IU of EPO, three times weekly by subcutaneous injection).
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) ≤ 2;
  • Are compliant and can understand the research and sign an informed consent form.

Exclusion criteria

  • History of thromboembolism in the previous twelve months;
  • Family history of hemochromatosis;
  • Anaemia diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome or hematologic diseases such as Mediterranean anaemia;
  • Received EPO treatment in the prior three months;
  • Received erythrocyte suspension transfusion in the prior two weeks;
  • Women who are pregnant or lactating;
  • Have a history of hypertension or mental illness.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

603 participants in 3 patient groups

EPO plus sustained iron dextran
Experimental group
Group 1, EPO treatment at the original dose plus IV iron dextran 200 mg every three weeks (Q3W) for 15 weeks
Drug: Sustained iron dextran supplementation
Drug: Erythropoietins (EPO)
EPO plus aggressive iron dextran
Experimental group
Group 2, EPO treatment at the original dose plus IV iron dextran 100 mg, twice a week (BIW) for five weeks
Drug: Aggressive iron dextran supplementation
Drug: Erythropoietins (EPO)
Double EPO
Active Comparator group
Group 3, the control group, doubling the EPO dose without preplanned iron supplementation
Drug: Erythropoietins (EPO)

Trial contacts and locations



Central trial contact

Yong Gao, PhD; Lin Chen, Master

Data sourced from

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