Growth factors or humoral agents can support haemopoiesis in various bone marrow disorders. They have the ability to act on multiple cell lineages and in myeloid cells, and the potential to act on the neoplastic equivalent of normal cells. Anaemia is a common feature of multiple myeloma seen in at least two-thirds of patients at presentation. Erythropoietin is increasingly being used with variable effect for the treatment of this anaemia, especially in cases associated with renal failure and in patients in whom blood transfusion may be undesirable or contraindicated. We describe a patient treated with recombinant erythropoietin who developed fulminating malignant transformation. The demonstration of erythropoietin receptors on a human myeloma cell line and the occurrence of the rare complication of plasma cell leukaemia in our patient stresses the need for caution and invites detailed clinical and laboratory studies before its general use.
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