Publications : 2011

Yong M, Riis AH, Fryzek JP, Møller BK, Johnsen SP. 2011. Predictors and patterns of red blood cell transfusion use among newly diagnosed cancer patients with chemotherapy-associated anemia in Western Denmark (1998-2003). Clin Epidemiol 3:91-99.



Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy are at increased risk of anemia. We conducted a population-based historical cohort study in newly diagnosed cancer patients with chemotherapy-associated anemia in order to characterize red blood cell transfusion (RBCT) use.


This study evaluated cancer patients diagnosed between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2003 using Danish National Patient Registry data. Patients were receiving chemotherapy and had a hemoglobin level ≤10.9 g/dL during the 4 months following cancer diagnosis. We characterized patterns of RBCT use and inpatient and outpatient hospitalization for transfusion. Adjusted Poisson regression models were used to evaluate the likelihood of RBCT, estimated by relative risk (RR), based on demographic and clinical factors.


Women constituted 58% of 1782 patients studied; the median age was 58 years. Two-thirds (67%) had solid tumors; 67% had stage III or IV disease at diagnosis. Overall, 713 (40%) patients received an RBCT within 120 days of cancer diagnosis, of which 94% were administered in the inpatient setting; 84% of these patients required subsequent transfusions. The median (Q1, Q3) pretransfusion hemoglobin level was 9.0 (8.4, 9.8) g/dL. Patients aged <20 years were more likely to receive an RBCT than older patients (RR 1.89; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.44–2.49). Compared with stage IV disease, those with stage II or III disease had a lower likelihood of RBCT (stage II: RR 0.52, 95% CI: 0.37–0.72; stage III: RR 0.68, 95% CI: 0.55–0.83). Patients diagnosed with breast cancer were less likely to receive an RBCT than patients with hematologic cancers (RR 0.34, 95% CI: 0.21–0.55).


In this study, 40% of cancer patients with chemotherapy-associated anemia in Western Denmark received an RBCT, usually in the inpatient setting; of these, most required subsequent transfusions. Younger age increased the likelihood of receiving an RBCT, and earlier stage or breast cancer decreased RBCT likelihood.