Erythropoietin is a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Erythropoietin is secreted by the kidneys.
Anemia (low levels of red blood cells) is common in people with myeloma and can be caused either by myeloma itself or as a side effect of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Anemia makes it difficult for the blood to supply the tissues with sufficient oxygen. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Synthetic erythropoietin – called epoetin alfa or EPO – is a common treatment for anemia in people with myeloma. EPO works by stimulating the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. In some people with myeloma and anemia, the use of EPO may reduce the need for blood transfusion.
EPO is sold under brand names including Aranesp, Epogen, Procrit, and Retacrit.
How do I take it?
EPO is administered as a subcutaneous or intravenous injection.
Common side effects of EPO include nausea; vomiting; chest, bone, joint, and stomach pain; cough; weight loss; low blood count; skin rash; high blood sugar; insomnia; headache; depression; and bleeding.
Rare but serious side effects of EPO include an increased risk of developing dangerous blood clots, heart attack, stroke, severe skin reactions, seizures, and hypertension.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Erythropoietin (EPO) — Chemocare