Iron deficiency (ID) is very common in patients with solid tumors and may cause symptoms such as fatigue. However, its impact on clinical outcomes is poorly described. The aim of this prospective monocentric cohort study was to evaluate the evolution of quality of life (QoL) of these patients after iron supplementation.


We included patients treated for a solid tumor, which were diagnosed with a functional (ferritin <800 ng/mL) or absolute (ferritin <300 ng/mL) ID (transferrin saturation coefficient <20%). The primary endpoint was patients’ QoL evolution between baseline and intermediate visit, 15-30 days after initial intravenous iron supplementation, assessed by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Anemia (FACT-An) scale. Secondary endpoints were the same assessment between baseline, intermediate, and final visit at 6 months and the evolution of functional capacities.


From 02/2014 to 12/2016, 248 patients were enrolled, of whom 186 were included in the analyses, including 140/186 (75.3%) with absolute ID. Anemia was detected in 141/174 (81.0%) patients at baseline. The FACT-An scores improved significantly between inclusion and intermediate visit (P = .001) and also between the 3 times of evaluation (P < .001). The most improved dimensions were those assessing physical, emotional well-being, and fatigue. Patients who performed the functional tests in all 3 phases had a significant improvement in performance on the majority of tests.


The supplementation of ID was associated with an improvement of the QoL and functional capacities in patients with cancer. A randomized control trial is necessary to confirm our results. Our findings underline the importance of supportive care, including screening for ID, in oncology.

Clinical trial registration number


Implications for Practice

Screening for iron deficiency must be done routinely in solid oncology. Its supplementation was associated with an improvement of quality of life in the short and long term, specifically regarding the physical and functional well-being, fatigue, and anemia-related symptoms. It was also associated with an improvement of functional capacities, explored by objective assessment using conventional functional and geriatric tests performed by a physiotherapist at 3 and 6 months.