Background: Randomized trials of colony-stimulating factors in febrile patients with neutropenia after chemotherapy have not consistently shown clinical benefit. Nevertheless, the use of colony-stimulating factors to treat patients with chemotherapy-induced neutropenia is widespread. Methods: We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) in afebrile outpatients with severe chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. We measured the number of days of neutropenia, rate of hospitalization, number of days in the hospital, number of days the patient received parenteral antibiotics, and number of culture- positive infections. Results: We randomly assigned 138 patients to receive G- CSF (n=71) or placebo (n=67). The median time to an absolute neutrophil count higher than 500 per cubic millimeter was significantly shorter for patients who received G-CSF (two days, vs. four days for the patients given placebo). However, there was no effect on the rate of hospitalization, number of days in the hospital, duration of treatment with parenteral antibiotics, or number of culture-positive infections. Conclusions: Routine therapeutic application of G-CSF in afebrile patients with severe neutropenia can reduce the duration of neutropenia, but this does not appear to provide practical clinical benefit.
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