Erythropoietin is a treatment for anaemia. Anaemia means the number of red blood cells in your body is low. It is also sometimes called having a low haemoglobin (Hb).
Many people with cancer develop anaemia at some point during their illness. This can be caused by the cancer, or chemotherapy.
For people with cancer, doctors usually treat anaemia with a blood transfusion.
But they may use erythropoietin if you are having chemotherapy where:
- you are likely to need blood transfusions often
- blood transfusions are not suitable for you, because of other health conditions.
People who have a bone marrow condition called myelodysplasia also sometimes have erythropoietin. This is to increase the number of red blood cells.
If you are having erythropoietin for anaemia caused by chemotherapy or myelodysplasia, doctors will try to keep your haemoglobin level between 100g/l and 120g/l.