Iron deficiency

Across multiple therapy areas, iron deficiency and its consequences have featured throughout publications and global congresses over the course of the last year. Provided below is an overview of the key updates in iron deficiency from throughout 2013. This summary highlights the trends in content related specifically to iron therapy and deficiency from three major congresses.

Recommended tests for iron deficiency anaemia can be dramatically affected by factors such as infection and inflammation, a new article reports. Although more accurate tests are available, they are not currently widely utilised, indicating that a change in current diagnostic practice for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may be necessary.

Data supporting the need for better recognition of iron deficiency will be presented this week at the United European Gastroenterology Week Congress in Berlin1. Iron deficiency is frequently under-diagnosed resulting in increased hospitalisation, reduced quality of life and higher death rates in patients with comorbid conditions2–9. The WHO has estimated that iron deficiency causes the loss of 48,225 disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) worldwide, more than is seen with lung cancer2.

Limiting dietary iron intake can slow tumour growth and increase the efficacy of some cancer therapies, according to a new animal study. Researchers used mouse models to demonstrate that iron depletion can weaken tumours by increasing their dependency on angiogenesis, making them less able to resist antiangiogenic therapies. Iron reduction may therefore provide a simple and effective way of enhancing current therapies in patients with cancer. However, the lack of data regarding the survival of the mice means it is difficult to apply these findings to humans.

Iron deficiency is associated with advanced cancer, poor performance status, and recent chemotherapy treatment in patients with solid tumours, a study of 1,513 patients has shown, reinforcing the importance of routine iron status assessment for improved outcomes in this population. The study also highlights the higher prevalence of iron deficiency compared with anaemia across almost all cancer types.

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