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Filgrastim is used for preventing infections in people undergoing chemotherapy or receiving bone marrow transplants. It is also used to stimulate the release of more stem cells in the blood to make stem cell collection and transplantation more successful. Filgrastim is approved for use in both adults and children. Off-label filgrastim uses may include the treatment of aplastic anemia and neutropenia caused by non-chemotherapy medications.

Filgrastim Uses: An Overview

Filgrastim (Neupogen®) is a prescription injection used to increase the production of certain white blood cells called neutrophils. Neutrophils are very important for the body's ability to fight off infection. In particular, filgrastim is approved to be used in the following ways:
 
  • For preventing infections in people undergoing chemotherapy
  • For preventing infections in people receiving bone marrow transplants
  • For aiding in the collection of stem cells collected for use in stem cell transplantation
  • For preventing infections and other problems in people with low neutrophils due to certain other causes (severe chronic neutropenia).
     

Filgrastim and Chemotherapy

Many types of chemotherapy affect the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells, causing several of the common chemotherapy side effects. For instance, if the bone marrow makes fewer red blood cells, anemia can occur. When fewer white blood cells are produced, infection may occur. Neutrophils, a specific type of white blood cell, are particularly important for preventing infection. Having a low neutrophil count (known medically as neutropenia) significantly affects the body's ability to fight off infection (see Chemotherapy and Infections). The body may be susceptible to bacterial, viral, or fungal infections that usually do not affect healthy individuals.
 
Neutropenia can be dangerous in a few different ways. Not only does it increase the risk of infections (which may be more difficult to treat), having a low neutrophil count can also cause your chemotherapy to be delayed. After each chemotherapy cycle, you must wait until your neutrophils have recovered to a safe level until you can continue with the next chemotherapy regimen. These delays can decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
 
Filgrastim is approved for use in people undergoing chemotherapy for non-myeloid cancers. Non-myeloid cancer is basically any cancer that does not involve myeloid cells (a certain type of white blood cell, including neutrophils). Theoretically, since filgrastim stimulates these types of cells, myeloid cancers may be worsened by the medicine. However, filgrastim has been approved for use in one type of myeloid cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML) but not in any other types of myeloid cancer.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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