Management of cancer-associated anemia with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents: ASCO/ASH clinical practice guideline update

Julia Bohlius, Kari Bohlke, Roberto Castelli, Benjamin Djulbegovic, Maryam B. Lustberg, Massimo Martino, Giannis Mountzios, Namrata Peswani, Laura Porter, Tiffany N. Tanaka, Gianluca Trifirò, Hushan Yang, Alejandro Lazo-Langner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


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 and

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1336-1351
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number15
StatePublished - May 20 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Management of cancer-associated anemia with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents: ASCO/ASH clinical practice guideline update'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this