Study finds iron levels not predictive of survival for form of blood cancer

May 11, 2009,

Iron chelating drugs have been heavily promoted for use in patients with primary myelofibrosis (PMF), a form of blood cancer often treated with blood transfusion. These drugs, however, which withhold available iron in the body, are highly expensive and potentially toxic. A new study published in American Journal of Hematology finds that their increased use has been propagated by non-evidence based, and often industry-sponsored, statements and opinions, rather than original research, and that the conclusions are often based on poor data.

The study shows that the degree of anemia in patients suffering from PMF, age and need for red cell transfusion at diagnosis were stronger predictors for patient survival than serum ferritin level (a protein that stores iron), which is often used as a proxy for iron overload in the blood.

"Although iron chelation therapy in PMF would probably lower serum ferritin level in such patients, its value in terms of meaningful health outcomes remains dubious," says Dr. Ayalew Tefferi of the Mayo Clinic, principle author of the study.

In a related editorial in the journal, Dr. Thomas G. DeLoughery of Oregon Health & Science University states that "hematologists are under increasing pressure to prescribe iron chelation for seemingly any patient being transfused. However, there is no evidence that iron overload affects survival or morbidity."

The findings should impact clinical practice by discouraging the indiscriminate use of an expensive, potentially toxic and unproven therapy. The future challenge in treating myelofibrosis is to avoid transfusions by better therapies to reverse the stem cell defect. "Unfortunately, the recent focus on iron overload as a priority and not the stem cell defect is leading to a misallocation of resources on both the patient and practitioner's part," says DeLoughery.

Source: Wiley (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers use a molecular Trojan horse to deliver chemotherapeutic drug to cancer cells

February 23, 2018
A research team at the University of California, Riverside has discovered a way for chemotherapy drug paclitaxel to target migrating, or circulating, cancer cells, which are responsible for the development of tumor metastases.

Study tracks evolutionary transition to destructive cancer

February 23, 2018
Evolution describes how all living forms cope with challenges in their environment, as they struggle to persevere against formidable odds. Mutation and selective pressure—cornerstones of Darwin's theory—are the means ...

Lab-grown 'mini tumours' could personalise cancer treatment

February 23, 2018
Testing cancer drugs on miniature replicas of a patient's tumour could help doctors tailor treatment, according to new research.

An under-the-radar immune cell shows potential in fight against cancer

February 23, 2018
One of the rarest of immune cells, unknown to scientists a decade ago, might prove to be a potent weapon in stopping cancer from spreading in the body, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Putting black skin cancer to sleep—for good

February 22, 2018
An international research team has succeeded in stopping the growth of malignant melanoma by reactivating a protective mechanism that prevents tumor cells from dividing. The team used chemical agents to block the enzymes ...

Cancer risk associated with key epigenetic changes occurring through normal aging process

February 22, 2018
Some scientists have hypothesized that tumor-promoting changes in cells during cancer development—particularly an epigenetic change involving DNA methylation—arise from rogue cells escaping a natural cell deterioration ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.