Background - Recent clinical guidelines suggest that treatment of postoperative anaemia in colorectal cancer surgery with intravenous iron reduces transfusion requirements and improves outcomes. The study aimed at comparing two intravenous iron regimens in anaemic patients after colorectal cancer surgery.
Materials and methods - This was a single-centre, open-label, randomised, controlled trial in patients undergoing elective colorectal cancer surgery. Patients with moderate to severe anaemia (haemoglobin [Hb] <11 g/dL) after surgery were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive ferric carboxymaltose (FC; 1,000 mg, single dose) or iron sucrose (IS; 200 mg every 48 hours until covering the total iron deficit or discharge). Randomisation was stratified by Hb level: <10 g/dL (Group A) or ≥10–10.9 (Group B). The primary endpoint was the change in Hb concentration at postoperative day 30. Secondary endpoints included iron status parameters, transfusion requirements, complications, and length of hospital stay.
Results - From September 2015 to May 2018, 104 patients were randomised (FC 50, IS 54). The median intravenous iron dose was 1,000 mg and 600 mg in the FC and IS groups, respectively. There were no between-group differences in mean change in Hb from postoperative day 1 to postoperative day 30 (FC: 2.5 g/dL, 95% CI: 2.1-2.9; IS: 2.4 g/dL, 95% CI: 2.0-2.8; p=0.52), in transfusion requirements or length of stay. The infection rate was lower in the FC group compared with the IS group (9.8% vs 37.2%, respectively).
Discussion - The administration of approximately 500 mg of IS resulted in an increase in Hb at postoperative day 30 similar to that of 1,000 mg of FC, but it was associated with a higher infection rate. Future research will be needed to confirm the results, and to choose the best regime in terms of effectiveness and side effects to treat postoperative anaemia in colorectal cancer patients.
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