Growth Factor Practice Patterns Among Pediatric Oncologists: Results of a 1998 Pediatric Oncology Group Survey

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The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) guidelines on growth factor (GF) use recommend applying adult-derived guidelines in pediatric oncology. An ASCO survey of adult oncology GF use determined the preference for first degree prophylaxis (use of GF when febrile neutropenia [FN] is expected to be high in untreated patients), second-degree prophylaxis (administration of GF after a documented episode of FN on a previous cycle of chemotherapy), and intervention in the treatment of FN. Similar preferences have not been evaluated in pediatrics. The purpose of this study was to (1) characterize GF use in pediatric oncology; (2) correlate use patterns with demographic factors; and (3) compare the Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) and ASCO surveys. The ASCO survey was revised for use within pediatric oncology and was mailed to the physician membership of POG; 341 were returned (86% completion rate). Comparisons were made with the ASCO survey. Most (76%) physicians said GF use was determined by protocol requirements and most (70%) patients were entered on POG protocols. GF use as first-degree prophylaxis was selected 40% of the time, which was significantly greater than in adults; this was most influenced by anticipated duration of neutropenia (≥7 days). The severity of the initial clinical course (eg, neutropenia, infection) influenced use in second-degree prophylaxis; dose reduction alone was never selected. For FN, GF use was 45%, with lower preferences in uncomplicated FN (16%-38%) compared with complicated FN (66%). POG respondents endorse greater use of GF for first-and second-degree prophylaxis but less use in uncomplicated FN than do ASCO respondents. These patterns may reflect different strategies, including the role of chemotherapy, value of dose intensity, and perceived toxicity of regimens. Given these differences, adult-based guidelines may not be appropriate for pediatrics.

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