According to results presented at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14), preventive treatment with Neulasta® (pegfilgastim) improved chemotherapy delivery and reduced the risk of febrile neutropenia (low white blood cell levels accompanied by fever) among women with breast cancer.
Although chemotherapy improves outcomes for many cancer patients, it is associated with unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening side effects. Chemotherapy destroys not only cancer cells, but also normal cells that grow rapidly. These include blood cells forming in the bone marrow, cells in the hair follicles, and cells in the mouth and intestines.
Neutropenia, one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy, occurs when white blood cells (immune cells) are destroyed by chemotherapy, leaving the immune system unable to fight infections.
Chemotherapy-induced neutropenia can become a serious condition for several reasons: many patients who develop neutropenia will require a delay in treatment or a dose reduction, which can prevent them from receiving full benefits of treatment; patients who develop neutropenia may require hospitalization; and even minor infections can become life-threatening. For patients at high risk of developing neutropenia, blood cell growth factors such as Neulasta® can be used to reduce the risk.
To evaluate the effects of Neulasta among patients receiving chemotherapy regimens with a moderate (15-20%) or high (20% or greater) risk of febrile neutropenia, researchers combined information from 11 previous studies. These studies enrolled a total of 2,282 women with breast cancer.
- Hospitalizations for febrile neutropenia occurred in 4% of women who received preventive treatment with Neulasta and 10% of other women.
- Chemotherapy dose reductions were required in 9% of women who received preventive treatment with Neulasta and 24% of other women.
This study suggests that breast cancer patients at moderate or high risk of febrile neutropenia benefit from preventive treatment with Neulasta. Preventive treatment with Neulasta reduced the risk of hospitalization for febrile neutropenia and supported a higher level of chemotherapy delivery.
Reference: Aapro M, Schwenkglenks M, Lyman G et al. Improved chemotherapy delivery in breast cancer patients receiving pegfilgrastim primary prophylaxis compared with current practice neutropenia management – results from an integrated analysis (NeuCuP). Presented at ECCO-14 – The European Cancer Conference. Barcelona, Spain, September 23-27, 2007. Abstract O#2033.
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