Management of Chemotherapy-Induced Neutropenia: Opportunities for Pharmacist Involvement

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Abstract

Purpose:

This article highlights the clinical impact of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN) and reviews the clinical evidence supporting the updated guideline recommendations from leading scientific organizations that focus on cancer care regarding the use of myeloid growth factors to reduce the incidence of febrile neutropenia (FN) from chemotherapy. The aim is to provide insight for practicing pharmacists regarding how they can be more proactive in developing best-practice strategies for the management of CIN as well as the prevention of FN.

Summary:

CIN, the primary dose-limiting toxicity of chemotherapy, is common in many tumor types that are treated with myelosuppressive chemotherapy and occurs with the greatest frequency in the first cycle of treatment. Treatment with myeloid growth factors, or colony-stimulating factors (CSFs), has shown to be effective in reducing the risk, severity, and duration of FN from chemotherapy. Despite recent revisions to various clinical guidelines that have resulted in alignment on the recommendation for prophylactic CSF use in patients with a greater than or equal to 20% risk of developing FN, a gap remains between actual clinical usage and best practice. Pharmacists are key members of multidisciplinary health care teams and are uniquely positioned to evaluate current practice and develop strategies that ensure appropriate CSF use. This paper summarizes the recent changes to CSF guidelines, reviews clinical data that support those changes, and discusses strategies for pharmacist involvement in the management of CIN and FN prevention using real-world examples of improvement initiatives.

Conclusion:

Neutropenia is a dose-limiting toxicity of chemotherapy that has significant implications for effective cancer treatment and patient health outcomes. Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to perform various interventions, which help ensure appropriate CSF use and improve the management of CIN.

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