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Red cell transfusion benefits in oncology, haematology and palliative medicine populations: a narrative review


Due to the heterogenous nature of the palliative medicine patient population, assessment of benefit, and thus choice of appropriate patient for consideration of transfusion, can be challenging. This can be confounded by the use of both liberal and restrictive transfusion thresholds. The multifactorial nature of many symptoms of anaemia, particularly in patients with advanced malignancy, can further complicate. As such, there is a paucity of data supporting the subjective, objective and clinical benefit of red cell transfusion in the palliative medicine setting. This narrative review summarises the research and evidence surrounding the benefits of red cell transfusion, with a particular emphasis on the oncological, haematological and palliative medicine population. There is a lack of a validated, reproducible patient-reported outcome measures (PROM) to assess response to red cell transfusions in the palliative medicine population with outcome measures varying from objective improvement in haemoglobin level post-transfusion, to subjective response in primary symptom(s). Further investigation is required regarding the development of effective PROMs assessing response to red cell transfusion in the palliative medicine population, to ensure judicious use of this scarce and valuable resource.

  • cancer
  • clinical assessment
  • drug administration
  • haematological disease
  • dyspnoea
  • fatigue

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