Recombinant erythropoietin is widely used for the treatment of anemia in malignant diseases in adults. There are only limited data of its use in pediatric population.

In this study we analysed the effectiveness and tolerability of recombinant human erythropoietin (NeoRecormon) in children with malignant diseases.

80 children with malignant diseases were analysed. 40 patients (15 girls, 25 boys) received EPO in a mean dosage of 144.5±14.1 IU/kg three times a week. The mean age of the EPO-treated patients was 8.8 (2.5–16) years. 26 children had acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 14 patients had solid tumor. Match-paired, retrospective control patients (n=40) with similar diagnosis were used for the data analysis as control group (C).

The mean duration of EPO treatment was 5.8 months (3–8 mo). In 6 patients the therapy was ceased due to elevated serum hemoglobin (Hb) (>130 g/L), in 6 patients the dose was increased up to 200 IU/kg three times a week, and 5 patients discontinued the therapy (2 died, 3 unsuccessful treatment). The mean amount of erythrocyte transfusion in the first 3 months of chemotherapy (CT) was 4.1±3.1 U/patient in the EPO group, and 8.0±4.2 in C, and during 6 months of CT 4.5±3.4 with EPO, and 11.6±7.1 in C (p<0.05).

Soluble transferrine receptor (STFR) levels in serum increased in the EPO group after 2 weeks of therapy from 3.2±2.0 up to 4.8±2.9 (p<0.05). In general in 26/40 patients a significant elevation of the Hb levels and decrease of the need of erythrocyte transfusions could be detected. In 22 patients the STFR levels increased more than 50 % after 2 weeks of therapy. In this subgroup 18/22 children responded to EPO therapy. All patients tolerated the therapy well, no severe side effects were detected. In summary, EPO treatment is effective in about 2/3 of pediatric oncology patients. The therapy is well-tolerated. Increase in the STFR serum levels might be a useful marker for the effectiveness of EPO in children.

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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