BACKGROUND : In patients with locally advanced cervical cancer who receive radiotherapy, outcomes correlate significantly with
haemoglobin level before and during therapy. These patients often have severe anaemia and require repeated transfusions to
achieve and maintain optimal haemoglobin levels.
METHODS : Women with anaemia and cervical cancer needing primary radiation treatment were randomised to two groups: the
study group received limited transfusion with intravenous and oral iron therapy; the control group received transfusion and oral
iron. Haemoglobin (Hb) levels, transfusion and markers of iron status were recorded initially and during follow up.
RESULTS : Forty-three participants were randomised; data for 39 were available for analysis: 19 received limited transfusion with
parenteral and then oral iron (Fe group); 20 had allogenic transfusion and oral iron (Tf group). Average Hb levels in the Fe group
displayed a steady rise over a 12-week follow-up while levels in the Tf group declined at about 0.5 g/dl per week. At week 12 pretreatment
levels were again reached despite intermittent transfusions.
CONCLUSIONS : Anaemic patients with late-stage cervical cancer in this setting have severe iron deficiency that necessitates
aggressive correction before radiation. While patients with severe or critical anaemia and those who require radiation without
delay need immediate transfusion, sufficient iron is critical to help replenish stores and sustain Hb levels. Patients with longer
waiting times before radiation or less severe anaemia should have parenteral iron supplementation at the time of diagnosis and
transfusion can be delayed until the time of radiation treatment.