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White Blood Cell Booster May Help Cancer Patients Avoid Deadly Complications

ing chemotherapy of varying intensity to treat several different types of cancers. The researchers found that nearly 40 percent of the patients who did not receive the white blood cell booster early in treatment developed the fever and low white blood cell levels called febrile neutropenia, compared to only 22 percent of the patients who took the drug in conjunction with their chemotherapy, Kuderer said.

While white blood cell boosters were known to help patients receiving very intense doses of chemotherapy, this study showed that the drugs are also a benefit to cancer patients receiving more common chemotherapy doses, Kuderer said.

Recently revised American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and National Comprehensive Cancer Center Network (NCCN) guidelines for the use of drugs such as Neulasta and Neupogen align with the conclusions reached by this study.

"The new guidelines recommend using these types of drugs when at-risk patients begin chemotherapy, rather than waiting for complications to develop," said Jeffrey Crawford, M.D., chief of the division of medical oncology at Duke and one of the study's investigators. "The new recommendations also suggest that we need better methods to identify patients who are at higher risk of developing febrile neutropenia, and future studies will be aimed at doing just that."

White blood cell boosters can have side effects, including bone pain, which need to be reviewed and discussed with each patient, Crawford said.

Other investigators on the study include Gary Lyman of Duke and David Dale of the University of Washington.


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