Purpose: Dose dense chemotherapy improves survival but also increases toxicity and treatment related cost. Here we report the prevalence of anemia, understand the risk factors of chemotherapy related anemia and determine the cost and time-delay associated with transfusion requirement in Indian non-metastatic breast cancer patients on dose dense preoperative chemotherapy.
Methods: In this study, 116 triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients were treated preoperatively with Docetaxel and Cyclophosphamide alternating with Epirubicin and Cisplatin every 2-weekly. Patients were evaluated for anemia pre- and post-chemotherapy. We examined trends in the cell counts, transfusion requirement, time to transfusion as well as risk factors associated with transfusion during treatment, along with delay in treatment due to anemia and the additional cost incurred.
Results: One hundred and sixteen women with high-risk non-metastatic TNBC were treated. Median age was 44.5 years. 56.1% had stage III disease. Delivery of 6/8 planned doses was achieved in 98.3% of patients, and all 8 doses in 86% patients. Anemia was detected at baseline in 54(46.5%) patients with mild(10-12g/dl) anemia in 42(36.2%) patients and moderate(8-10g/dl) in 12(10.3%) patients. Forty-four patients (37.9%) required transfusion during chemotherapy with 55(47.4%) patients having grade 1-2 anemia and 40(34.5%) patients having grade 3 anemia. The factors associated with transfusion were low grade of tumor (OR 2.48 (95% CI 1.08 - 5.68), p = 0.025), hemoglobin post 2 cycles of chemotherapy (OR 1.74 (95% CI 1.21- 2.51), p = 0.003), thrombocytopenia grade 3 or 4 (OR 4.35 (95% CI 1.062-17.827), p = 0.034) and drop in hemoglobin after 2 cycles (OR 1.65 (95% CI 1.09-2.48), p = 0.017). Nearly one fourth of the study population had a delay between two cycles of chemotherapy due to anemia. A median additional cost of Rs 7000 (IQR-Rs 7000 – Rs 14000) was incurred on transfusion.
Conclusion: Anemia is a common toxicity associated with dose dense chemotherapy during curative breast cancer treatment leading to delay in treatment and increased cost. Low grade tumor, grade 3 or 4 thrombocytopenia and Grade 2 or higher anemia after 2 cycles of chemotherapy are risk factors for blood transfusions during treatment.