Chemotherapy not only destroys cancer cells, but can also affect different types of blood cells. Therefore, depending on the therapeutic regimen used and individual risk factors, chemotherapy can trigger febrile neutropenia.
This involves a decrease in a certain type of white blood cell (neutrophil leukocytes), which are part of the immune system. In febrile neutropenia, there are too few neutrophil leukocytes for the immune system. Symptoms of infection may be absent, but fever occurs in most severe infections. The diagnosis is made on the basis of a differential blood count. Febrile neutropenia and associated infections are a significant factor in illness and mortality after chemotherapy. It may lead to dose reduction of chemotherapy and/or cycle delays. The use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is recommended as a strategy in guidelines for reducing the incidence and duration of febrile neutropenia in certain malignancies.
Oncology Guideline Program. S3 guideline Supportive therapy in oncology patients. Long version 1.0 – November 2016, AWMF register number: 032/054OL.
Onkopedia Guideline. Prophylaxis of infectious complications by granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF, pegfilgrastim, biosimilars). August 2014.