The following article requires a subscription:

(Format: HTML, PDF)

Background: Anaemia is a common sequela of advanced disease and is associated with significant symptom burden. No specific guidance exists for the investigation and management of anaemia in palliative care patients.

Aim: We aim to offer a pragmatic overview of the approaches to investigate and manage anaemia in advanced disease, based on guidelines and evidence in disease specific patient groups, including cancer, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.

Design: Scoping review methodology was used to determine the strength of evidence supporting the investigation and management of anaemia in patients with advanced disease.

Data sources: A search for guidelines was performed in 2020. National or international guidelines were examined if they described the investigation or management of anaemia in adult patients with health conditions seen by palliative care services written within the last 5 years in the English language. Searches of MEDLINE, the Cochrane library and WHO guidance were made in 2019 to identify key publications that provided additional primary data.

Results: Evidence supports patient-centred investigation of anaemia, results of which should guide targeted intervention. Blanket use of blood transfusion should be avoided, with evidence supporting a more restrictive approach to transfusion. Routine use of oral iron and erythropoetin stimulating agents (ESAs) are not recommended. Insufficient evidence exists to determine the effectiveness of IV iron in this patient group.

Conclusion: We advocate early consideration and investigation of anaemia, guided by symptom burden and patient preferences. Correction of reversible causes should be the mainstay of treatment, with a restrictive approach to blood transfusion. Research is required to evaluate the efficacy of IV iron in these patients.

(C)2022Sage Publications