Colony-stimulating factors can reduce the morbidity and possibly the mortality from some types of cancer treatment. Reductions in hospitalization and supportive care, eg, transfusion requirements and antibiotics, have been documented in several clinical trials and can lead to lower total care costs. However, the high cost of colony-stimulating factors and the necessity to treat large numbers of patients who do not benefit can offset the economic gains, unless the savings in hospitalization and supportive care are substantial. Primary prophylaxis with colony-stimulating factors is cost- saving only if the rate of hospitalization for febrile neutropenia is 40% or more; no current standard regimens are near that figure. In general, the American Society of Clinical Oncology clinical practice guidelines for the use of colony-stimulating factors lead to effective and cost-conscious use of these expensive growth factors. Colony-stimulating factors are not recommended for primary prophylaxis of febrile neutropenia, are recommended for secondary prophylaxis if dose-reduction is not appropriate, and are recommended for stimulation of hematopoietic progenitor cells and reconstitution after high-dose chemotherapy. Further expansion of use based on economic factors will depend on documented survival benefit, major improvements in supportive care due to colony-stimulating factors, or markedly lower costs of colony-stimulating factors.
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