Clinical impact of chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia in patients with gynecologic cancer

G L Goldberg, D G Gibbon, H O Smith, C DeVictoria, C D Runowicz, E R Burns
Journal of Clinical Oncology 1994, 12 (11): 2317-20

PURPOSE AND METHODS: This retrospective analysis of 501 patients with gynecologic cancer treated with chemotherapy evaluates the relationship between platelet count and clinical bleeding, as well as the clinical effects of platelet transfusion therapy. Thrombocytopenic patients were divided into six groups according to platelet counts, and major or minor bleeding manifestations were documented. Thrombocytopenia was defined as a platelet count less than 100,000/microL.

RESULTS: Thrombocytopenia occurred in 182 (36.3%) patients over 808 of 1,546 chemotherapy cycles (52%). No intracranial or life-threatening bleeding occurred in any patient. The majority of patients (139 [76.4%]) had no clinical bleeding. Minor bleeding, such as purpura, occurred in 34 patients (18.7%) and 44 cycles (5.4%). Major bleeding occurred in nine patients (4.9%) and 10 cycles (1.3%). Five major bleeding events occurred in 49 patients with platelet counts between 0 and 10,000/microL. Forty-three of these patients received platelet transfusions. Thirty-eight of 43 transfused patients (88.3%) had no bleeding. Of the remaining five patients, two were transfused prophylactically with no effect. Three major bleeding events occurred in patients with platelet counts that ranged from 11,000 to 20,000/microL, but these were due to chronic instrumentation or trauma. In patients with platelet counts more than 20,000/microL, major bleeding occurred only from necrotic metastatic lesions. Random-donor platelet transfusions provided inconsistent increments in platelet counts. Overall, 27.5% of patients achieved the expected increase in platelet number based on units of platelet concentrate transfused. The use of single-donor or human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched platelets did not provide greater increments in those patients who were refractory to random-donor platelets.

CONCLUSION: Platelet counts > or = 10,000/microL are not associated with spontaneous major bleeding. Prophylactic platelet transfusions in patients with gynecologic malignancies and chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia should be limited to those with platelet counts < or = 10,000/microL, provided they are not bleeding and have no major anatomic or pathophysiologic precursors of bleeding.

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