Background - Although blood transfusion is fundamental throughout the course of hematologic malignancies, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients requiring intensive chemotherapy are left at the edges of patient blood management programs because current guidelines do not have established recommendations for red blood cell (RBC) transfusion threshold in patients treated for hematological disorders with anemia and accompanied severe thrombocytopenia. To provide answers for the trigger and doses of ideal RBC transfusion in such situation, we conducted this prospective randomized trial.
Materials and methods - Newly diagnosed non-acute promyelocytic AML patients undergoing chemotherapy were considered eligible for enrollment. Patients were randomized into 4 groups using a 2 by 2 factorial design, according to the RBC transfusion trigger (hemoglobin [Hb], 7 vs 8 g/dL) and the number of units per transfusion episode (quantity, single vs double-unit).
Results - Initially 91 patients were randomized into 4 groups, but the protocol adherence rate was 90.1%. Hb trigger did not affect the amount of RBC transfusion required during treatment. Patients receiving RBC transfusion at Hb <7 g/dL used a median of 4 units of RBC (range 0-12), and those receiving transfusion at Hb <8 g/dL also used a median of 4 units of RBC (range 0-24) (p=0.305). The number of RBC units per transfusion did not affect the total amount of RBC transfusion required during treatment. AML treatment outcomes and bleeding events did not differ across the 4 groups.
Discussion - This study demonstrated the feasibility for restrictive RBC transfusion (Hb <7 g/dL, RBC 1 unit) in AML patients undergoing chemotherapy, regardless of chemotherapy intensity.