Beyond CINV, another area of great concern for oncologists and their patients undergoing treatment with chemotherapy is chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. Cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens induce hematologic toxicities in patients, the most serious of which is neutropenia. Low neutrophil levels impair the host immune response and are associated with increased risk of infection for patients. Neutropenia, and ultimately the development of febrile neutropenia can result in dose reductions and treatment delays for cancer patients, compromising treatment outcomes. At last year’s CFS®, Jeffrey Crawford, MD, professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, covered exactly this.
Dr. Crawford detailed the toxic realities myelosuppressive chemotherapy has on the body, and reviewed the methods we have to combat the development of neutropenia or febrile neutropenia. Myeloid growth factors and other prophylactic treatments can improve prospects for patients, and with the continued development of biosimilar agents our preventative armamentarium has grown. Crawford left us with a steadfast reminder: “neutropenia is the major risk factor for fever and infection, and reduced chemotherapy dose delivery… individual patient risk assessment and preemptive management is critical.”